Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has affordable, comedy shows seven nights a week in NYC and LA. Watch the best improv, sketch and standup in the country. Our original comedy video productions have garnered the national spotlight. We also run the first nationally accredited improv and sketch comedy school in the country. For information on our courses, visit the Training Center.

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June Diane Raphael featured in Venus Zine


Venus Zine
Spring 2009
An Upright Citizen
by Cassandra Rivas

June Diane Raphael, Venus Zine's favorite new funny lady, takes success in stride

It is almost impossible to avoid developing a girl-crush on June Diane Raphael.  She's got it all: brains, beauty, a knack for writing -- not to mention her contagious sense of humor, which has at least once led to the shitting of her pants (check out her video, Caffeine. A Love Story on funnyordie.com).

New to the Hollywood scene, the emerging writer, actress, and viral video star doesn't have a phony bone in her body.  She believes success is a result of hard work, an undying willingness to try anything, and a light heart.  "The work that I really love is when you can see someone laughing and crying.  Comedy with heart," she tells us -- and that's exactly what she's about.

VZ: Most people would jump at the chance to work with their best friend.  When you and Casey (Wilson, from SNL) were writing Bride Wars, was it difficult to get down to business?

JDR: It [was] very difficult.  That's the problem.  We have too much fun with each other and call a lot of things "research" that aren't.  If we can't think of something, we'll go shopping or just talk and wait for something to come to us.  One of us has to say, "Seriously, it's time to start now!"

VZ: For The Year One, you're working with some of the funniest actors in Hollywood (Jack Black, Michael Cera, and David Cross).  Is this an intimidating cast to step into?

JDR: On paper, yeah, totally.  I was so nervous at first, and the thought of it kept me up at night.  But in reality, they were incredibly kind, and I never felt uncomfortable.  I was really amazed ... especially with Jack.  He set the tone to be really playful and fun.  It was insane how fun it was.

VZ: American Tragic appears to hold a mostly somber tone.  What challenges do you face filming a drama vs. a comedy?

JDR: I'm not really approaching it in a different way.  I don't approach comedy as "this is going to be funny."  I don't like to think about what people are going to laugh at.  Some stuff is heavy serious at times, and that's the reality of life.  You find serious moments in comedy and funny moments in drama.  Don't have an expectation of what a moment will be.

VZ: Do you have a preference between the two?

JDR: In a way, you know when a comedy is working -- if it's not working, people aren't laughing.  With drama, you can't always tell by their reaction.  Comedy is very clear, and people love to see it, but it's underrated, and that's bullshit.  It's such a hard medium to work in.  It takes so much skill and timing.  It's incredibly difficult work, but it is <i>so</i> worth it.  High brow or low brow, it's amazing to hear someone laugh.

VZ: How has being a part of the highly respected Upright Citizens Brigade affected your career as a writer and actress?

JDR: It's an incredible community where people are talented and work really hard at their craft.  I still perform at their LA theatre [which is] an amazing outlet for any performer ... the audience always tells you what they do and don't like.

VZ: What's the best piece of advice you can offer aspiring actors and writers?

JDR: I'm still trying to figure it all out.  We [Casey and I] didn't set out to write, but once we got the opportunity, we didn't say 'no' to anything.  Say yes to anything that comes your way, unless it's like a porno -- that'll open another kind of door.