Seeing Stars: Live on Stage


7307 Melrose Avenue,
Hollywood, CA. / (323) 934-9700


The Groundlings are L.A.'s oldest comedy troupe; itresembles Chicago's "Second City" group in its improvisational approach to comedy.

(The name Groundlings dates back to Shakespeare's time, when it referred to poorer theater-goers who sat on the ground between the stage and the costly seats.)

Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), Lisa Kudrow ("Friends"), Pat Morita ("Happy Days"), and "Saturday Night Live" alumni Chris Farley, Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman, Julia ("It's Pat") Sweeney, Steve Guttenberg, and Laraine Newman all got their big breaks as Groundlings here at this small (99-seat) theatre.

   

Open since 1974, the entertainment at the Groundling consists mainly of (often hilarious) short skits and sketches performed live on stage, and often totally improvised on the spot based on requests from the audience. It's a good chance to catch a rising star, someone who may show up soon on "Saturday Night Live"... In fact, the theater has become a virtual breeding ground for SNL and "Mad TV" performers. According to the OC Register, as of late 1998, "SNL" had seven current performers and two writers that were former members of the Groundlings.

Kathy Griffin, who plays Brooke Shield's abrasive friend Vicki on "Suddenly Susan" (and 'Alice' on "Dilbert") says that she started out at the club. She came to a performance, then marched backstage to talk with the guy she thought was the most talented one in the group - and asked him how she could break in with the group. That turned out to be NewsRadio's Phil Hartman. (Ironically, when Phil Hartman was murdered by his wife, his spot on "NewsRadio" went to another former Groundling, Jon Lovitz.)

Mike Meyers appeared as a guest at the Groundlings and tapped Groundlings' veteran Mindy Sterling to play Dr. Evil's sidekick, 'Frau Farbissina', in the 1999 comedy "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me."

Light refreshments served. (Tickets about $18.)

 Getting there: The Groundling Theater is located on the north side of Melrose Avenue, about five blocks west of La Brea, just west of  Georgia.




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