The Groundlings Podcast Network

Breaking Ground - Episode 22: BEST OF: Writing Partnerships

This week on the podcast we’re bringing you another special compilation episode with clips from episodes that have featured the amazing writers and writing teams that have been formed at the Groundlings. From having their scripts picked up to winning prestigious awards for their work, you’ll find the stories and advice from these writing teams illuminating and inspiring.

Breaking Ground - Episode 21: BEST OF: Anniversary Panel Series

This week on the podcast we’re bringing you another special compilation episode with clips from the 45th-anniversary panels that were featured last year as part of the Groundlings anniversary celebrations. The panelists discuss a huge range of topics, from embracing the Groundlings as a place to discover your comedic voice, to creating solo shows, to how improvising and performing sketches at the Groundlings can help your writing career.

Breaking Ground - Episode 20: Allison Dunbar & Kevin Kirkpatrick

Kevin Kirkpatrick, a Groundlings alumni, and Allison Dunbar from the current main company, have the kind of collaborative partnership that the Groundlings is all about. They are both huge admirers of each other’s work, and when they come to write, their similar sensibilities mean that the writing process is a total joy for them. In this episode, Kevin and Allison talk about their co-written sketches, their enormous talent for structured improvs, and why you should never trust Kevin with your spare house key. 

Breaking Ground - Episode 19: BEST OF: STARTING OUT

This week on the Breaking Ground we’re bringing you a special compilation episode with past guests as they reveal how they discovered the Groundlings and what their first steps were like in the Groundlings training program. From enormous excitement to intense fear, everyone’s beginning to the journey is unique, but there are as many similarities as there are differences.

Breaking Ground - Episode 18, Part II: Tom Maxwell

In episode two of a special two episode series, Groundlings co-founder Tom Maxwell talks about the development of the Groundlings style of sketch and improv, the creation of classic exercises and drills that are still performed in student shows to this day, and how the company transformed from a roving band of improvisational actors to find its permanent home on Melrose Ave. 

Breaking Ground - Episode 18: Tom Maxwell & Don Woodard

In episode one of a special two episode series, Tom Maxwell and Don Woodard talk about the creation of the Groundlings theater dating all the way back to the first workshops run by Gary Austin. Tom discusses the growth of the theater, what it was like for Don to have Tom as his teacher, and how they later came to form their extremely successful writing partnership.

Breaking Ground - Episode 17: Maryedith Burrell

Maryedith Burrell is one of the early members of the Groundlings troupe and went on to have an extraordinary career, starring in ABC’s Fridays and Ron Howard’s Parenthood, writing on the Peabody Award winning Faerie Tale Theatre, and recurring on Seinfeld and Home Improvement. In this episode, Maryedith talks about being part of the comedy renaissance in Los Angeles, performing with Phil Hartman and Laraine Newman and why improv is ultimately a philosophy for life.

Breaking Ground - Episode 16: Brian Palermo

From his time in the Groundlings main company to being an original cast member of one of Los Angeles’ longest running improv shows to his dozens of film and television credits, Brian Palermo has been entertaining American audiences for decades. In this episode, Brain talks about being part of the iconic Groundlings Beverly Winwood show, his love for improv and how he developed a speciality for teaching improv to non-actors.

Breaking Ground - Episode 15: Women in Comedy Panel

In this week’s special episode, host Michael Churven brings you a panel discussion with the main company women of the Groundlings Theater as they talk about working to find your essence, having confidence in your comedic point of view, and the importance of breaking through negative expectations.

Breaking Ground - Episode 14: George McGrath

George McGrath is a national treasure. He was a member of the Groundlings main company in the 1980s and 90s and went on to an acting and writing career that has spanned over four decades. His first writing job earned him an Emmy nomination on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and was nominated several more times, in particular for his work on HBO’s Tracey Takes On that he wrote with the brilliant Tracy Ulman, for which he also won a GLAAD award. In this episode, George talks about his early days in the Groundlings Sunday company and Main Company, his love for directing, and what it was like to be able to give some of his fellow Groundlings their first writing and acting jobs in Hollywood.

Breaking Ground - Episode 13: Phyllis Katz

This week on the Groundlings podcast, Michael Churven talks with beloved alumni Phyllis Katz about what it was like to be a pioneer member of the Groundlings. From her first performance on the Groundlings stage to going on to teach and direct generations of Groundlings main company members, Phyllis’ has a unique gift for bringing out the joy in everyone she works with.

Breaking Ground - Episode 12: Tim Bagley

Tim Bagley made his way to Los Angeles as part of the famous American singing group ‘The Young Americans’. But it wasn’t long after landing in Los Angeles that Tim found The Groundlings where he was in the main company from 1990 to 1995. In this episode, Tim talks about working in the main company with his favorite writing partners like Lisa Kudrow and Mike Hitchcock, where he draws inspiration for his award winning solo shows, and how pushing into uncomfortable areas creatively has helped Tim in both his writing and acting work. 

Breaking Ground - Episode 11: Wendi McLendon-Covey

It took Wendi McLendon-Covey four years to sign up for her first Groundlings class. Wendi even had to ask her friend to make the call because she was so nervous. But once Wendi was finally in class, she soared. She made her way from the Fun Shop intro class to the Groundlings main stage and has gone on to star in Reno 911, Bridesmaids, and now currently stars on ABC’s The Goldbergs. In this episode, Wendi talks about how she managed to finally take the leap of faith to start classes, the delicious kind of exhaustion she got from performing in Sunday Company and why she enjoyed her toughest teachers the most.

Breaking Ground - Episode 10: Chris Kattan

Chris Kattan’s sketches and characters (Mr Peepers, The Roxbury Guys, Mango) are some of the most iconic ever to come out of Saturday Night Live. In this episode, Chris takes us back to the beginning when, as a young kid, he watched his father Kip King perform on the Groundlings stage with other founding members, and where Chris first got the opportunity in the Groundlings training program to develop characters that would later propel him to amazing heights on SNL. Chris also talks about how his Groundlings experience sharpened his solo writing skills and his joy in collaborating with his favorite writing partners. 

Breaking Ground - Episode 9: Writing Solo Shows Panel

In addition to being a place of great collaboration in its sketch and improv shows, the Groundlings has also become an incredible platform for solo performers. Several solo shows created on the Groundlings stage have gone on to be produced on Broadway and at international comedy festivals such as The US Comedy Arts Festival and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. On this week’s episode, we’re bringing you a panel discussion that was recorded at the theater with Groundlings who’ve written and performed solo shows. If you’ve ever considered creating your own solo show, get ready to be inspired! 

Breaking Ground - Episode 8: Phil LaMarr

Phil LaMarr is a Groundlings alumni who began studying improv long before he found the Groundlings theater. He has trained with some of the all-time best improv teachers like Del Close in Chicago, but it was at the Groundlings with its emphasis on characters that Phil found his home. In this episode, Phil talks about getting to work with a slew of other Groundlings on the long running sketch show Mad TV and in the hit film Pulp Fiction, and shares how his Groundlings training has helped his extremely successful voiceover career.

Breaking Ground - Episode 7: Greg Worswick & H Michael Croner

Greg Worswick and H Michael Croner are current Groundlings who first met when they started writing together in the Sunday Company around 2011. They’ve had many hit sketches together and two of the characters that they created on the Groundlings stage were picked up and turned into a series by Comedy Central. In this episode, they talk about their favorite sketches, why they love writing together and discuss the highs and lows of writing prop-heavy sketches.

Breaking Ground - Episode 6: Mindy Sterling

Mindy Sterling is best known for her role as Frau Farbissina in the Austin Powers films. It was at the Groundlings Theater where Mike Myers workshopped his Austin Powers variety show with Mindy and several other Groundlings. Mindy relives her experience of working with Mike, the joy she discovered through performing and directing on the Groundlings stage and why improv is still a big part of her life.

Breaking Ground - Episode 5: Writing for Television & Film Panel

In addition to generating some of the world’s best comedic actors, the Groundlings theater has also produced a slew of incredible writers who have won Oscars, Emmys and Peabody awards. Join our panel of Groundlings who write for film and television as they discuss their writing process, which elements are essential for great storytelling and how their Groundlings training in sketch and improv helped them master writing for longer formats like sitcoms and feature films.

Breaking Ground - Episode 4: Ryan Gaul & Lisa Schurga

Lisa Schurga and Ryan Gaul have the rare experience of knowing each other and working closely long before ending up in the main company at the Groundlings together. Lisa and Ryan relive their first encounter in an improv class over 20 years ago at the Improv Asylum in Boston and they talk about how their Boston roots continue to be an anchor for some of their greatest characters.

Breaking Ground - Episode 3: Mitch Silpa and Jim Cashman

Mitch Silpa and Jim Cashman are Groundlings alumni who have been writing together for almost 20 years. From their beginnings in the Groundlings main company to having their first sitcom script produced as a pilot for Fox, this hilarious writing duo talk about their writing process, why they enjoy trimming their own material and why improv is an invaluable skill for writers.

Breaking Ground — Episode 2: Tracy Newman & Jonathan Stark

The Emmy and Peabody award-winning writing team of Tracy Newman and Jonathan Stark met at the Groundlings theater, but it was not until after they both retired from the main company that they started writing together. Tracy and Jonathan talk about how they got their start writing a spec script for Cheers, what it was like to write Ellen DeGeneres’ famous coming-out episode on the sitcom Ellen and how the person who types in a writing team is usually the one with all the power. 

Breaking Ground — Episode 1: Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow is widely recognized as creating one of the greatest characters in American television. Her role as Phoebe Buffay on Friends was called ‘a delivery system for joy’ by the New York Times. But the origins of Phoebe go all the way back to her training at the Groundlings. Lisa talks about being pushed by her Writing Lab teacher to play a ‘dumb’ character, creating her favorite sketches and monologues in the Groundlings Main Company and how her very first audition in Los Angeles everntually lead to Romy and Michele’s Highschool Reunion.