As anyone who’s seen All Star Instant Comedy With the Groundlings on cable can tell you, the LA-based Groundlings provide a slicker, noisier brand of improv, punching tag lines with the force of laugh-hungry stand-up comics and painting quickly in broad strokes the kind of well-defined characters guaranteed to win yuks from the yokels in the balcony. Those who love nice, long, slowly unfolding improvisation may scorn the Groundlings’ insistence on entertainment for entertainment’s sake. But there is a place for speed and mental agility in the improv universe, if only to show improvisers how to survive in LA, where style always trumps substance and if you’re not louder, faster, and funnier than the next guy, you’re nowhere. Not surprisingly, the Groundlings have proved a fertile breeding ground for comic actors since being founded in 1974 by the Committee’s Gary Austin–Lisa Kudrow, Julia Sweeney, Phil Hartman, and Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) all cut their teeth there. The Groundlings appear on a program with Burn Manhattan and the Zeitgeist Theater. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 773-782-4720. Sunday, April 11, 8 PM. $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited group photo.