From those ridiculous family get-togethers to crazy gift-shopping excursions to neurotic friends, the Groundlings Holiday Show tackles them all. This holiday-themed sketch comedy show features the Groundlings Main Company at its best – dishing out wacky, uncensored comedic commentary on everyone's favorite (or most dreaded) season.
The Groundlings have been making Los Angeles laugh since the early '70s, when they began as the Gary Austin Workshop. The workshop was designed as a nonprofit organization where comedians could showcase their material around the nation.
In 1979, the group moved to its current Melrose location and the Groundlings School of Improvisation was created. What began as a small gathering of only 17 students is now a breeding ground for comedians, which enrolls over 4,000 students into its classes annually. The curriculum is divided into four parts – basic, intermediate, lab and advanced, and graduates of the highest level have the chance to join the Groundlings Company.
The company boasts such talented alumni as Lisa Kudrow, Jon Lovitz, Paul Reubens (his famed character Pee-wee Herman was created here), Jennifer Coolige and Will Ferrell, and past members are known to stop by from time to time to jump in on the fun.
The Groundlings are known for their hilarious digs on popular culture and spontaneous improv sketches where anything can happen, and the Holiday Show does not disappoint. During the 90-minute show, the company treated the audience to songs and sketches dedicated to exposing the hilarious nature of the holiday season.
One audience favorite was a sketch titled “Seasons,” a spoof on a Martha Stewart-like show featuring a lesson on how to make holiday centerpieces. Some skits featured audience participation and the enthusiasm of the spectators was evident. During one ridiculous sketch, “Baby New Year,” cast-member Steve Little serenaded audience members while dressed in nothing more than a diaper.
Some of the highlights of the show were the improv pieces, during which the audience was able to help guide the direction that the scenes took. These skits showcased the actors' willingness to embrace absurdity and ability to make even the most mundane scene settings (WalMart, for example) become hilarious.
The scenes ranged from outwardly political to ridiculously silly, with topics from the United States government enlisting the help of Santa to a cover of a Toby Keith country song. Not one failed to elicit laughter from the audience nestled in the cozy 99-seat theater.
Along with the witty scripts, the costumes and sets help to entertain throughout the show. The Holiday Show boasts one of the best collections of heinously ugly Christmas sweaters in Los Angeles, perhaps even in the entire country.
Not all of the Groundlings Main Company performs in each show, so depending on what show you see, you will be entertained by a different selection of L.A.'s funniest. Some of the cast's faces are familiar, because many of them act in television and movies. Although your ticket won't guarantee you a front row seat (The Groundlings Theatre is open seating.), the space is so small that even the farthest row feels up close and personal.
There's not a bad seat in the house, the topics are fresh and daring and the comedy is dead-on. So, what are you waiting for? Get up and get out!
The Groundlings Theater is located at 7307 Melrose Ave., in Los Angeles. The Holiday Show runs Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (323) 934-4747 or visit www.groundlings.com.