The theatre traces its roots back to the days of Ancient Greece. Tragedies were plenty, but so were comedies. Aristophanes, anyone? Therefore, it could be inherently in the Greek DNA. This month’s edition of 5 Greeks will take a look at performers of Greek descent whose roots are in improvisational and sketch comedy, such as Saturday Night Live (SNL), Second City Television (SCTV), The Groundlings, and more.
Ana Gasteyer: One of the most notable stars of Saturday Night Live (SNL) that the 90s and 2000s, Ana Gasteyer, left many audiences ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing). With Greek ancestry tracing far back, she certainly inherited the ancient gene of comedy. Gasteyer created many original roles as well as performed fantastic impersonations. She received comedy/improv training from The Groundlings in Los Angeles, CA. An extremely successful career on-screen and on-stage, she most recently played Mrs. Schwartz in Fox’s live production of A Christmas Story this last December, as well as Principal McGee in Fox’s live production of Grease in 2016.
Tina Fey: Most everyone knows that Tina Fey is of Greek descent and another extremely notable star of this generation’s Saturday Night Live. Prior to SNL, Fey performed with The Second City in Chicago, IL – which is basically a mecca for improvisational comedy in the United States. After her time at SNL, both performing and writing, Fey has experienced much success in feature films and television. Her writing debut for a feature film took the form of the largely popular Mean Girls in 2004. It has such a following that the film was adapted for Broadway, it is set to premiere in 2018. Fey wrote the book for the musical. She is currently an executive producer for NBC’s sitcom Great News, starring Andrea Martin, also known as “Thea Voula” from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Martin also hails from sketch comedy background, performing with SCTV. Wouldn’t you love to be on set with Tina Fey and Andrea Martin?!
Amy Sedaris: You could say it’s all in the family. Many may know Amy Sedaris from working with her brother, comedian and author David Sedaris. Amy’s roots with improv comedy go back to both performing in troupes for Second City and Annoyance Theatre (both in Chicago). She starred in Exit 37, a sketch comedy program by Comedy Central in the 1990s. Sedaris has also had roles in comedic films with fellow sketch comedy actors such as Jack Black in School of Rock and Will Ferrell in Elf.
Jason Mantzoukas & John Kapelos:
While both Jason Mantzoukas and John Kapelos have previously been featured in separate editions of “5 Greeks,” it’d be remiss not to mention them. Jason Mantzoukas most recently performed at the 17th Annual SF Sketchfest, in January 2018. This festival is held yearly in San Francisco, CA. Mantzoukas is well-known for his roles in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The League, along with many other credits to his name. John Kapelos has a history with sketch comedy with The Second City in Chicago. He is well-known for his role as The Janitor in The Breakfast Club.
Email the author: Giuliana Harris