In 1990, former L.A. Groundling founding member, Cherie Kerr, conceived the idea of a sketch and improvisational comedy troupe that would perform in and for Orange County. Along with Kerr, fellow L.A. Groundling alum, Kathy Griffin, held auditions to cast some of the county’s funniest performers. In January of 1990, the first satirical review opened, featuring skits that lampooned the county’s ills and foibles; it also took plenty of comedic aim at some of the county’s most illustrious and notorious figures.
During its 29 years, the Orange County Crazies has become an enviable institution as it remains the longest and most prominent organization of its kind in the county of Orange. Based in Santa Ana, California, the O.C. Crazies school is unmatched and its performances always crowd-pleasing. Over the years, it has garnered stellar reviews and awards for its original and creative works, as well as for its unparalleled school of comedy. it now offers a screening room, as well, for fledgling filmmakers to show their works.
To date, the highly-acclaimed comedy organization offers occasional revues and improv shows, but its main focus is currently on its school and workshop series events. Week-night and Saturday workshops offer superb training in improvisational comedy, standup comedy, sketchwriting, and original character development. Most classes culminate in a showcase show before a live audience at the conclusion of the eight-week workshop or one-day class. Kidprovisation, which has been a staple of the school for more than 20 years, is a spring/summer workshop series available to youngsters eight to 18-years of age. They, too, perform before friends and family after completing their course of study.
The OC Crazies also perform for corporate “industrials” through its sister company, ExecuProv (www.execuprov.com) shows that are either held on-site or at a client’s location, where the actors spoof company executives and customs, or perform good old fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants improv pieces. Such shows are always custom-tailored.
The OC Crazies many instructors include Founder and Artistic Director, Cherie Kerr, and a number of her colleagues, such as Gary Austin, Founder of the L.A. Groundlings, Second City’s Michael Gellman and various former O.C. Crazies Main Company players. Some of the performing groups over the years have included the Main Company, the Mixed Nuts, Crazies Plus, Crazies-in-Training, The Little Crazies. and the Crazie Beez. These youngsters also take to the stage for showcase performances.
Guest performers, directors and comedy judges have included a wide range of highly-skilled comedy actors including: Fellow Groundlings alumni and SNL player, Julia Sweeney; Jim Jackman, Jim Doughan, George McGrath, Bill Steinkellner (creator of “Cheers.); Mary Jo Smith. Shirley Prestia, Tracy Newman, and Phil LaMar, to name but a few. L.A. Groundlings founder, Gary Austin, has also served as a guest host and teacher at the De Pietro, along with Michael Gellman, Senior Director at The Second City in Chicago and Toronto.
The Orange County Crazies offers its many programs and shows at its resident theater, The De Pietro Performance Center, an intimate and well-appointed 78-seat theater facility in mid-town Santa Ana. The facility sits in the midst of the city’s burgeoning arts district.
In addition to the weekly comedy shows at the De Pietro, guests enjoy plays, musical concerts, film screenings, and other events produced by those who rent the De Pietro.