How It All Started


left to right: Larry Hankin, Kim “Howard” Johnson (moderator), Alan Myerson, and Carl Gottlieb.

I founded the San Francisco Improv Festival with Shaun Landry in 2004. Back then I dreamed of doing some kind of a Committee event, either a reunion show or panel discussion. As an improviser familiar with the standard improv histories – Janet Coleman’s The Compass, Jeffrey Sweet’s Something Wonderful Right Away, etc. – The Committee was a bit of an enigma to me. There simply wasn’t much recent material on them, which meant a 21st century celebration was long overdue.

We never got to it in the festival’s early years. But when I and members of my troupe Crisis Hopkins took over the Festival in 2010, a Committee event was our first priority. Thankfully, Committee founder Alan Myerson was more than happy to participate. Not only did he enlist his mates Larry Hankin, Carl Gottlieb, Allaudin Mathieu and Jim Cranna to join in the fun, he came armed with a trove of old photos and press clippings. For an improviser with an interest in history, this was all I ever wanted.

Since the 2010 panel, my partner Jamie Wright has been steadily collecting interviews of Committee participants. I think early on he had a documentary in mind. In the last year or so we decided to make it an official project. We have a lot more material to gather, and since it’s not a full-time effort for either of us it’s slow-going, but I’m pleased to say that a feature-length documentary on The Committee is now in production. SO FUN. – Sam Shaw


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