Spring Update


Since we last checked in, much has been accomplished. We’re bearing down on our fundraising, editing our first episode (1963-66), lining up our next interviews, and more.

We are fully ensconced in our headquarters – the incubator program at Ninth Street Independent Film Center in San Francisco. The space accommodates three workstations, a projection screen, and centralized storage for our growing digital and physical archive of Committee-related materials. We also have access to a 60-seat screening room which we used just this month for a viewing of Jerry Wainwright’s photography archives with Jerry’s family & interested parties. We love it here.

In the coming months we’ll host an office-warming, listening parties and screenings to support our vision of the episodic documentary The Committee: A Secret History of American Comedy. Stay tuned.

Interested and able parties can now support our work with a tax-deductible donation of cash, stock, or securities via our fiscal sponsor Filmmakers Collaborative San Francisco. Our 2013 Kickstarter funds – which paid for most of our 30 + interviews – have been depleted, so we’re fortunate to have Filmmakers Collaborative San Francisco as a fundraising partner.

Since January we’ve raised more than $10,000 in new funds, including a significant boost from the family of Committee friend and investor Maxwell Myers. We are looking to bulk up our production team, as well as our army of patrons. Please consider spreading the word about our project. We are confident in the demand for The Committee’s story, and we will pitch this project to anyone, anywhere.

Here are some more highlights from the last few months:

  • We interviewed Ronnie Davis at his San Francisco home in February. Ronnie was a great host and subject, and gave us a very well-argued contrarian point of view regarding improvisational theater (and much more).
  • We interviewed Kathy Lerner, Alan’s secretary and ex-wife of cast member Howard Hesseman. Kathy was forthcoming about the position of women in the counterculture, giving us an important point of view to consider in the #MeToo era and a lot of think about.
  • We are finishing integrating new project management tools that are further organizing and tracking our work and allowing us to fold in volunteers and new team members into our project. This is a huge help in ensuring that we don’t lose track of the hundreds of archive elements and many investigative threads that we’ve discovered since we started.
  • We uncovered a new piece of gold: The Marin County Medical Society-produced, Sid Davis Productions-distributed 18 minute educational short Too Tough to Care (1964). This hilarious piece of satire captures original Committe castmembers Scott Beach, Larry Hankin, Hamilton Camp, Dick Stahl, and Garry Goodrow, within two years of their arrival to San Francisco. This piece is smart, well-performed, and totally prescient, considering the tobacco-related lawsuits of the generations that followed. Enjoy.

Thanks for your interest in The Committee: A Secret History of American Comedy. We are always on the hunt for archival material – home movies, audio tape, print ads, whatever. If you’re sitting on something that might be valuable to our story, we’d like to see it. Hit us up!

Jamie Wright and Sam Shaw



First Sneak Peek of The Committee Movie Trailer

Camp Improv Utopia

A couple weeks ago I went to Camp Improv Utopia to be a counselor at the three-day improvisation intensive set up by Nick Armstrong and his Improv Utopia accomplices. It’s a fantastic gathering of improvisors from around (mostly) the western US, though its reach is starting to grow with the National Improv Network, which has sprung from connections made at camp.

It was there we showed the first semi-public sneak preview of our trailer to a non-Committee audience. I have to admit, I found myself pretty nervous in front of what was likely to be the most supportive audience possible for the project. I swam around in my words for a good minute before I got to the goods and delivered the premise and showed the trailer to a really warm reception of applause and cheers from everyone there in the dining hall.

When I thought of it later, I realized it was the responsibility I felt to all these people who I have so much respect for to tell the story in the best & most truthful way possible – from the teachers, fellow performers, festival producers, and theater owners present from across the US to the members of The Committee not in attendance. I’ve made hundreds of short films, but this is our first feature-length documentary.

I’m taking that nervousness as a reminder to get it right – I think we have a good start…!