Ambling in the midst of a drunken haze and rainy night in 2003 Brooklyn, four friends – Lauren Antler, Alan Harris, Matt Jablin and Seyi Peter-Thomas – formed the short-form comedy collective Collars Up.  The details are sketchy, but popping one’s collar like a fratacular college kid or an 80s tennis pro was a significant part of the outing’s shenanigans, and the name just stuck.   

The personnel of the group has changed over time, and so has its approach to creating content.  There are scripted shorts on CollarsUp.com, but the best videos, and their recent passions, are the improvised films posted about once a month. 

The group plots out a storyline, scouts a location, obtains necessary props, makes sense of the narrative, and then the actors have at it, making up dialogue on the fly.  The results are surprisingly good – on par or better than much of New York’s live improv theater.

Some of the standout include Powerhouse, a twisted comedy about a couple having problems trying to conceive, and another couple who’s overeager to help. At first, it could be like any number of SNL skits (an overly-uptight character interacts with an obnoxiously laidback character), but the sketch takes an unexpected silly, absurd, kinda sick turn. 

###In V-Day, Collars Up tackles the calamities of celebrating Valentine’s Day in an office, particularly in a situation where everyone but you is partnered up and receiving special deliveries. Less succinct than Powerhouse, the story meanders, but the comedic timing and characterizations are on point. The underlying thesis is that Valentine’s Day is the crappiest of all holidays, and showing how women love to make each other feel bad is always good comedic fodder. 

Lil Buh is another one to watch. It’s a very-not-scary horror film in which unsuspecting yuppies displaced to the ‘burbs get a visit from a shady character who they believe is an escaped murderer from a nearby women’s prison. Throughout the two-minute short, you’re never quite sure where it’s going, but when it wraps, you’re glad there wasn’t ample foreshadowing to predict the ending.

Alan Harris is the only remaining member of the original four who forged Collars Up. He’s joined by a talented cast of NYC comedians and actors: Becca Greene, Marci Clark, Will Nunziata, Mackenzie Condon and Eric Hollerbach. If you dig the improvised shorts, find more info on the crew on their website, which showcases their individual work, performance reels and commercial spots.

Give it all a gander.  The crew certainly knows how to make good stuff.  

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