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Comedy As A Spiritual Experience: Upright Citizens Brigade

Finding My Sanctuary at UCB 

Multiple times a week, for the last four years, I have eagerly descended a set of stairs with fellow revelers into a dimly lit, tiny basement comedy theatre called Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). It is, in fact, the steadiest relationship with a sanctuary I’ve ever had.

In comedy, without fail, I lose myself and I find God. Every day is Sunday. Every laugh is an amen.


(Photo: UCB)

(Photo: UCB)

The communal recognition of truth, binding us to others in that recognition, is our homily. The fun house mirror provokes humility, as we examine ourselves and nod along to the hum of flaws on display. That humility paves the way for empathy, which mobilizes us to vulnerability and more connection.

In the middle of it all, we are asked to brazenly stare at the nakedness of our own souls.

But in that very moment, we are rescued with a chorus of laughter. We are not alone. In place of a cross necklace, my totem is a whimsical phone cover: a tiny llama wearing a red party hat, tucked in a giant purple pocket.

It reminds me: joy is a form of defiance.


(Photo: UCB)

(Photo: UCB)

When I leave a show, I feel returned to both my community and myself. I didn’t even know I had been missing. It feels like slipping into water, weightlessness and ease overwhelming me. I need the facilitation of truth, connection, humility, empathy, and the brazen exploration of pain.

As we walk back up the stairs, releasing like a river overflowing onto the banks, I am grateful for both the gathering and the scattering. The rootedness and irreverence are lead in my feet, grounding me and driving me with a lighthearted twinkle in my eye.

I am ready for another day.


(Photo: "Ready..." by Lucas)

(Photo: “Ready…” by Lucas)

UCB Chelsea
307 W 26th St
b/t 8th Ave & 9th Ave

UCB East
153 East 3rd St
b/t Avenue B & Avenue A
East Village, Alphabet City

This is Tiffany Firebaugh’s first Waddle story.

Poet. Improviser. Believer in the power of comedy and spirituality. Interested in climate change and forced migration.

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Tiffany Firebaugh • January 30, 2017

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