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Cheri Oteri
The Groundlings: improving improv in L.A. for 40 years
The Groundlings: improving improv in L.A. for 40 years

It's raucous backstage at the Groundlings after a Tuesday evening improv show — red wine and buckets of salty snacks will do that to a roomful of comedians, as will having just killed it onstage. A fluffy border collie lumbers through the crowd, which is shot through with boisterous congratulatory hugging. The warm glow of makeup mirror bulbs and shelves of wigs and costume props accentuate the festive vibe — a plastic gun here, a rubber chicken there. This bunch, however, hasn't appeared onstage together since the 1980s, and so the evening is also a reunion of sorts. For its 40th anniversary, the Groundlings is hosting improv shows by the decades, bringing back...

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