David Ogden Stiers.


There was a lot we wanted to ask David Ogden Stiers about a wide range of subjects.

David Ogden Stiers was approached twice by Alan Myerson to join The Committee, until he finally signed on in the summer of 1967, performing alongside Don Sturdy at The Committee Theater (“America Hurrah”, directed by Joe Chaikin) and then with the revue players at 622 Montgomery. 1967-68 was a peak transition year for The Committee, when the company was preparing to open up a run at The Tiffany in Los Angeles while maintaining two theaters in San Francisco and expanding its workshop program.

Stiers performed in two Del Close-directed shows at 622 Broadway in late 1967 and early 1968 and it’s a joy to imagine Stiers arriving at Juilliard with an understanding of the earliest beginnings of longform improvisation (The Committee’s fall ‘67 show included a Harold) and the experience of playing with Committee performers old and new, from Garry Goodrow to Gary Austin.

He flew east for Juilliard in 1968, but not before joining in on the fun at The Committee’s June Satirathon, which featured pretty much everybody. That Satirathon was recorded in full, and maybe someday we’ll find a full tape and hear him improvise, or even ask for suggestions. For now, we’ll settle with this gorgeous picture of David Ogden Stiers from that night, shot by the late John Byrne Cooke. RIP.

We are Going Episodic.

del brent camera

As we continue to research The Committee and interview members of its cast and community for our documentary film, it’s become clear that we are truly building the airplane while we are flying it. When we started, we imagined that our story would be a straight-forward, feature-length, “talking head” style documentary, with a heavy reliance on archival material.

Instead, given the nature of what we’ve uncovered in our research, we’re now producing the project as an episodic documentary, currently structured to be told in five parts. It is our intention not only to tell the story of The Committee, but also to shine a light on the particular joys and struggles of the individuals involved, and put their achievements in the context of their time.

We recognize that this is an ambitious vision. To help us toward this end, we have recently formed two important partnerships. The San Francisco Film Society (SFFILM) has taken us on as our fiscal sponsor, a partnership that will allow us to receive institutional grant funding and tax-deductible donations from individuals. This fiscal sponsorship is a key tool for fundraising and we can’t wait to introduce our project to funders, individuals and foundations alike.

Our second partner – Ninth Street Independent Film Center – has accepted us into their Incubator Program, which will allow us the use of an office space and screening room subsidized by The San Francisco Film Commission. We will move into the office, located in San Francisco’s Civic Center, later in the fall.

We’ve been working on this project for over five years at this point, and feel that our tilt to episodic storytelling, a fiscal sponsor, and workspace are major breakthroughs and will help us move faster and more efficiently. We will update this blog and our Facebook page with news of events and screenings. Thanks for your support and interest.

Epic Summer of Love Weekend.


We had an amazing time this weekend visiting the Summer of Love exhibit at the de Young Museum with none other than Lisa Law (Flashing on The Sixties, The Hog Farm, The Jook Savages, and much more). Lisa photographed everything in the sixties, from Committee performances in San Francisco and LA, to Monterey Pop, Woodstock, Further, and everywhere else. Thanks, Lisa, for letting us tag along,

Gary Austin (October 18, 1941 – April 1, 2017)

Gary Austin - Camera B

We lost another pioneer this week with the death of Gary Austin. When The Committee started its run at The Tiffany Theater in Los Angeles, Gary joined the cast in San Francisco under the direction of Del Close, and he was part of the company when it made its early breakthroughs in longform improvisational theater. Austin continued on with The Committee with various ensembles under various directors, evidently soaking up everything he quickly learned. It’s hard to imagine that The Committee’s cultural influence would be so widespread without Austin to evangelize their work. The Groundlings, which Austin founded in 1974, became a force in comedy that for years was matched only by The Second City in the talent that it attracted and nurtured. As a teacher of acting for forty years, Austin helped players bring their full selves to the stage and to play at the top of their intelligence. Thanks, Gary, for your commitment to elevating the art form and for your life of service. 

Fragmented, Illogical, Unpredictable.

“The Committee Workshop style is almost the complete opposite of the Stanislavsky Method. ‘The Emotional Symphony’ where each member is assigned a different emotion to emit in the form of a sound upon the conductor’s cue breaks every rule of Method Acting. There is no character analysis, no logic, no build-up or reason for the emotions, only the emotions themselves. Somehow, the fragmented, illogical, and unpredictable nature of The Games more closely represents the workings of the human mind than the logical constancy and fixed identity portraits typical of O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, etc.” – Judith Meyer, “The Games are the New Theatre”, Los Angeles Free Press, September 6, 1968 (thanks to Chris Smith, via Tamara Wilcox-Smith).



Talking The Committee on “SK Morton’s Lousy San Francisco” podcast.


Earlier this month we joined San Francisco history and culture maven SK Morton on his podcast SK Morton’s Lousy San Francisco Podcast to talk about The Committee, The San Francisco Improv Festival, and our personal histories in uncomfortable detail. We even do a little improv at the end. Enjoy, it’s a fun listen and if we got anything wrong, holler.