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Improv We Trust

October 02, 1994

Thank you, Lawrence Christon, for telling all of Los Angeles about one of its "hidden" treasures, the Groundlings ("In Praise of Silliness," Sept. 18).

I have yet to see a Groundlings show that has failed to provide me with continuous laughter, and judging from the capacity crowds that always seem to accompany me, I am not alone. Best of all, the Groundlings provide "real" humor. The laughs they bring about come from the characters and sketches they create. They are not the result of vulgar and foul-mouthed dialogue. This is humor everyone can enjoy.

Let us hope that one of the TV networks finally wakes up and notices true talent (well, one can dream). Until then, I'll continue to go to the Groundling Theatre to catch the best comedy entertainment in L.A.


North Hollywood


Groundlings may come and Groundlings may go, they may zing or they be just plain silly, but in my many years of reviewing theater in Los Angeles, I found them to be generally forced and restricted by too many set pieces (and the music was deafening).

For my money, the best improv group in L.A. was Dee Marcus' Off the Wall. Every show was completely unscripted, based solely on audience suggestions. You never saw the same show twice. Former Times reviewer John Mahoney referred to them as "joined at the quip." Thanks to tremendous rapport among cast members and Dee's impeccable sense of timing in knowing when to end a skit, Off the Wall was a never-ending source of delight you enjoyed seeing again and again. It was the jumping-off place for Robin Williams, pre-"Mork and Mindy."

Whatever happened to Off the Wall?



The cover photo of Phil Hartman, reprinted at left, should have been credited to Dave Siegel.

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