Matt Besser is known as one of the co-founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade, which began as a sketch comedy group in Chicago, moved to New York City, got a TV series on Comedy Central, and opened up theaters and schools teaching improv and sketch comedy in both New York and Los Angeles. Besser also created and starred in a second Comedy Central series, the parody debate show, Crossballs, and over the years has performed as a guest star in sitcoms such as Fresh Off The Boat, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, and Community. But Besser’s stand-up career predates his association with the UCB. He has four stand-up comedy albums out, including the audio version of his first solo comedy special, 2016’s “Besser Breaks The Record.” His second stand-up special, “Pot Humor,” was filmed for Comedy Dynamics in a cannabis club in Portland, Ore., full of stoners, including Besser. You can hear Besser hosting his popular improvised comedy podcast for Earwolf, called Improv4Humans, and still find him every weekend at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles performing the theater’s signature ASSSSCAT shows. That’s where I caught up with Besser recently. We had a lively discussion about changing attitudes toward both pot and improv over the course of our lifetimes, the highs and lows of both. So let’s get to it!
Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are an award-winning writing and directing team based in Los Angeles. They became friends and collaborators while performing together in New York City on an Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre sketch team called Onassis. They formed Gulp Splash Productions in 2015. Since then, they have written and produced three short films, which have appeared in more than 70 film festivals worldwide. They’ve also directed two episodes of Adam Ruins Everything for truTV. But it’s their first feature, “Greener Grass,” that has everyone talking. What began as their first short film, directed then by Paul Briganti, premiered at SXSW in 2016, where it won festival awards and begat a TV deal with IFC. DeBoer and Luebbe ended up turning Greener Grass into their own calling card, directing the feature film adaptation, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and got bought by IFC Midnight. In the film, they co-star as best friends, or are they frenemies, in a surreal suburban community where everyone drives golf carts and wishes they had what their neighbors have. It co-stars Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Mary Holland and D’Arcy Carden, and opens in movie theaters and On Demand in October 2019. I sat down with the filmmakers in Hollywood, so let’s get to it!