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  • Paul Davidson

I Was A Groundlings Dropout

My teacher was Frau Farbissina.

That’s right. Dr. Evil’s right hand evil co-conspirator in the taking-over of the entire world for one million dollars, just happened to be my teacher when I started taking classes at The Groundlings. What is the Groundlings? It’s the Los Angeles based improv school that has turned out such stellar comedic players as Will Ferrill, Phil Hartman, Lisa Kudrow, Cheryl Hines, Phil LaMarr and many more.

I took the class because I thought “acting was easy.”

Little did I know, but Mindy Sterling (who is the real person who plays Frau) was going to be my teacher, and her teaching-style was not far-off from the actual character she played in the Austin Powers movies.

Slowly, I started saying that I took the class as a writer, just to “see what actors had to go through” but not because I wanted to be an actor because, well, if I said I wanted to be an actor then I would actually have to be good and that, my friends, wasn’t going to be the case. Nonetheless, after taking the first class and not making into the second level (only 4 of my class of 16 did), I decided it wasn’t for me.

But that didn’t keep me from going to see their Wednesday night All-Star show last night, Cooking With Gas.

Hilarious, is about all I can say. If you’ve never been to an improv show like this, it’s pretty damn fun. It sort of feels like the Who’s Line Is It Anyway? show where the director (Mindy Sterling, last night) asks the audience for suggestions. So, for example, she brings up Phil LaMarr and Cheryl Hines (both there, last night) and says, “Okay, they are co-workers at what kind of place?” Then you all shout out your ideas from underwear-factory to greeting-card company, and before long the improv-ers are off and running with hilarious results.

Last night’s performance included a bunch of people you’d recognize from Mad TV, Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm and even included a celebrity or two in the audience. The show even attracted talk show loud-mouth, Tom Leykis, who stepped on my foot as he inched past me to his seat.

It was a glorious moment I’ll not soon forget.

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