Improv Wiki

Del Close was the driving force behind improvisational comedy in Chicago for over 30 years influencing Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, John Belushi, Chris Farley and the Upright Citizens Brigade to name a few. After Del's passing in 1999, the UCB started the Del Close Marathon to celebrate their mentor and keep alive his name and teachings for future generations.

Every year, improv is performed by groups from all over the country (and the world) around the clock on multiple stages. The festival has grown from a weekend event to include special shows that happen all week leading up to the "official" Friday afternoon opening of the Marathon.

The 11th Annual DCM was held in August 2009.


  • DCM 10: August 8-10, 2008. 10th Anniversary.
  • DCM 8: July 28-30, 2006. Marathon festivies expanded to fill the entire week before the marathon.
  • DCM 6: July 30-August 1, 2004.
  • DCM 5: July 11-13, 2003. The "Street Ritual" first appears, during which it rains. First year the shows are expanded to a second stage, Gotham City Improv.
  • DCM 1: June 11-13, 1999. Properly titled "The Del Close Memorial Longform Improv Marathon."

Theaters/Performance Spaces

As it has grown, the DCM branched out from the UCBT-NY stages into the neighborhood. DCM groups have performed at the following venues:

  • Abingdon Theatre. Multiple theatre spaces. Used in 2005-2006.
  • Producer's Club. This space was smallish and the furthest from the UCBT. Used in 2004.
  • Hudson Guild, a community centre a block west of the UCB on 26th Street with a gorgeous theater. Used in 2007-2009.
  • Urban Stages, first used by the DCM in 2008 & 2009.
  • FIT hosted special shows (those not included on the weekend pass) in 2007-2009, as well as the ASSSCAT marathon show in 2008 & 2009.

"Marathon-Only" Shows/Groups

Some shows rise up, perform only once a year at the Marathon, and then are tucked away for the rest of the year, only to return the following Marathon. Some groups are formed anew just for performing at the Marathon. These have come to include more late-night, "genre" specific shows.

  • Match Game '76 - Rife with multiple celebrity impersonations and violence. The most awesome show ever.
  • CosbyProv
  • Southern Fried Cagematch
  • Robot TV - Formerly a regularly-performing group, now only seen at the Marathon.

Drunken Sonic Assault

The first Drunken Sonic Assault appeared in the DCM3 and had a two and a half hour long slot. It was described as an "Open jam for everyone with your hosts: Matt Besser, Jake Fogelnest, Brett Gelman and Owen Burke." [1]. Besser DJ'd throughout the performance providing suggestions via audio cues, sound affects and even suggestions. [2] Shannon O'Neill was very drunk for the first DSA and for most, if not all, of the ones that followed. Moreover, this is true of nearly everyone appearing in DSA.

Out of Town Favorites

Shows which historically only make it to NY during the DCM and are huge hits. (This used to include shows like Baby Wants Candy, who now do more frequent performances here).

For example:

  • Improvised Shakespeare, the show everyone was talking about at the 2008 DCM.
  • Biscuitville

Memorable shows, events, etc.

2008: Debut of the much-heralded Eric Scott and a Wig Stool.

Every group that has ever performed at DCM


Fun Facts

  • Every year, one or more people try to remain in the theater for the entire Marathon. A number of them succeed.
  • Krompf traditionally hosts breakfast on Sunday morning.


Will Hines, I believe, started a comprehensive photo stream on Flickr.


The Del Close Marathon Website

DCM flyers created by Dyna Moe.