ByMichelle Siouty, writer at

Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Will Ferrell, and Maya Rudolf are all hilariously funny. I often find myself laughing so hysterically, I am left with a stitch in my side due to an accidental ab workout I have countless tried to replicate in the gym to no avail.

Wondering where these incredibly talented comedians honed their skills and practiced their brilliant array of comical characters? It's a magical place in Hollywood known as The Groundlings Theatre.

As described on their website:

"The Groundlings is an improvisation and sketch comedy theatre that has been entertaining LA audiences for over 40 years. We’re a non-profit organization founded by Gary Austin in 1974. A “Groundling” is one of the 30 company members who write and perform in the theatre’s shows and teach classes at the Groundling’s School."

While I wasn't able to find videos of all the following actors working the stage during a Groundlings show, the ones I were able to dig up were already a huge indication of just how funny these guys and gals were.

1. Melissa McCarthy

Year started: 2001

McCarthy's first breakout role was Sookie St. James in Gilmore Girls, and has since worked on such popular productions as Samantha Who?, Bridesmaids, The Heat, Tammy, St. Vincent, Mike & Molly, and Ghostbusters.

Fun fact! She met her husband Ben Falcone at The Groundlings, a man who is just as hilarious as she is.

2. Will Ferrell

Year started: 1995

Funny man Will Ferrell got his start on Saturday Night Live, which helped land him on A Night at the Roxbury. From there, Ferrell has appeared as such legendary characters in productions like Superstar, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Family Guy, Zoolander, Undeclared, Old School, Elf, Starsky & Hutch, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky and Bobby, Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, Step Brothers, The Office, Casa de mi Padre, Eastbound & Down, 30 Rock, The Internship, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Get Hard, Drunk History, the Zoolander series.

3. Kathy Griffin

Year started: 1985

Kathy Griffin is known for her fearless ability to say what's on her mind - and perhaps what is on all of our minds. Although her real break out role was as Vicki Groener on Suddenly Susan, Griffin also appeared on a Saturday Night Live Special. From there, she worked on such productions as The Cable Guy, Seinfeld, Muppets from Space, The X-Files, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Simpsons, Strong Medicine, The Drew Carey Show, Spider-Man, Stripperella, Days of Our Lives, Ugly Betty, Shrek Forever After, Glee, Drop Dead Diva, and American Dad!

Let's also not forget her hilarious stand up comedy, which I have had the pleasure of watching live. I admit I couldn't stop laughing.

4. Kristen Wiig

Year started: 2004

Bridesmaids is the film that not only completely showed off her insane comedic skills, but also her all around acting talent. She is also known for her knee-slapping characters on Saturday Night Live. Wiig has appeared on such productions as Knocked Up, 30 Rock, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Semi-Pro, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Adventureland, Extract, Whip It, Date Night, Despicable Me, Friends with Kids, Portlandia, Arrested Development, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, The Martian, Zoolander 2, and Ghostbusters.

5. Jennifer Coolidge

Year started: 1993

Although she might be most famous for playing Stifler's mother in American Pie in 1999, Coolidge seems to be the one actor who is able to steal the show with her interestingly quirky characters that she can transform into so easily.

Her other notable roles are included in a Saturday Night live Special, A Night at the Roxbury, King of the Hill, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Best in Show, The Andy Dick Show, Legally Blonde, Zoolander, Sex and the City, Friends, According to Jim, A Cinderella Story, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Robots, Joey, The Closer, Nip/Tuck, Napoleon Dynamite, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Fish Hooks, Glee,

6. Jon Lovitz

Year started: 1985

When I look at Lovitz face, I can already hear his high-pitched nasally voice saying some of the funniest things I have ever heard.

Lovitz is another Groundlings who had made it to Saturday Night Live. He also appeared in The Brave Little Toaster, Big, The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, The Critic, The Wedding Singer, Little Nicky, Eight Crazy Nights, Friends, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Las Vegas, Two and a Half Men, Hot in Cleveland, Grown Ups 2, Hawaii Five-0, The Simpsons.

7. Maya Rudolph

Maya Rudolph can easily contort her face into some of the most hilarious expressions, which was a necessary skill for her time on Saturday Night Live.

She has also acting in Gattaca, City of Angels, A Prairie Home Companion, Idiocracy, 50 First Dates, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons, Kath & Kim, MacGruber, Grown Ups, Bridesmaids, Friends with Kids, Up All Night, Grown Ups 2, Portlandia, Inherent Vice, Family Guy.

8. Lisa Kudrow

Year started: 1991

Known for her role as the whimsically quirky Phoebe on Friends, Lisa Kudrow is a legend.

You will also recognize her in such productions as Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Clockwatchers, The Simpsons, Hercules, Mad About You, King of the Hill, All Over the Guy, Dr. Dolittle 2, Wonderland, Happy Endings, American Dad!, P.S. I Love You, Hotel for Dogs, Paper Man, Courgar Town, Easy A, Scandal, Web Therapy, The Comeback, BoJack Horseman, El Americano: the Movie, Neighbors 2: Sorority Ring, The Girl on the Train.

9. Paul Reubens

Year started: 1979

If you didn't grow up watching The Pee Wee Herman Show as a kid, then you are severely missing out. I still laugh when I hear the phrase "giant underpants" in that bubbly voice Reubens does so well.

You can also catch Reubens in Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, The Flintstone Comedy Show, Mork & Mindy, Pandemonium, Faerie Tale Theatre, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Star Tours, Big Top Pee-wee, Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse, Pee-wee's Playhouse, Batman Returns, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Matilda, Murphy Brown, Buddy, Everybody Loves Raymond, Blow, Ally McBeal, Rugrats, Reno 911!, 30 Rock, Dirt, Reno 911!: Miami, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Pushing Daisies, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Conan, The Smurfs, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, TRON: Uprising, Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, American Dad!, Star Wars Rebels, Sanjay and Craig, Accidental Love, Portlandia, Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series.

The video below isn't from a Groundlings performance per say, but the actors performing alongside Reubens in this video were all part of The Groundlings.

If your dream is to one day land SNL, be a stand up comedian, or maybe your head is filled with the most hilarious characters ever and you need to let them out, then The Groundlings Theatre might be the place for you!

These comical geniuses didn't happen overnight. Their stories of practice, dedication, and determination is truly inspiring. And thank the gods of comedy a place like The Groundlings Theatre exists for them to really get them started.

[Source: The Groundlings]


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