Lovitz headed to Helium this weekend

Jon Lovitz

He cre­ated some of the most mem­or­able and in­vent­ive char­ac­ters dur­ing his stint on Sat­urday Night Live, in­clud­ing Ha­nukkah Harry, Mas­ter Thespi­an, An­noy­ing Man and one of his most pop­u­lar, Tommy Flanagan, the Patho­lo­gic­al Li­ar. Yeah! That’s the tick­et!

And speak­ing of tick­ets, you can pick up yours for Jon Lovitz’s ap­pear­ance April 10-12 at the He­li­um Com­edy Club, 2031 Sansom St. in Cen­ter City.

Lovitz, a Cali­for­nia nat­ive, said he grew up want­ing to be a base­ball play­er.

“I was ob­sessed with the game from the ages of sev­en to 15 but I was nowhere close to be­ing good enough to play pro­fes­sion­ally.”

The next thing that ap­pealed to Lovitz was act­ing. Dur­ing the early years, he ac­ted in high school plays, and even­tu­ally earned a B.A.. in drama at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia, Irvine. He also stud­ied act­ing with Tony Barr at the Film Act­ors Work­shop. It was Barr who told Lovitz his strength was in com­edy.

Listen­ing to his ment­or, Lovitz began tak­ing classes at the fam­ous im­prov com­edy group, The Ground­lings, in 1982. By 1984, he was ac­cep­ted in­to the main com­pany at the Ground­lings. The fol­low­ing year, the group ap­peared on The To­night Show, where Tommy Flanagan made his de­but, fi­nally giv­ing Lovitz the big break he needed — a job at SNL thanks to his tal­ent and re­com­mend­a­tions of Lar­raine New­man and Charles Grod­in.

The year was 1985, and Lovitz was nom­in­ated for an Emmy his first two years on the show.

”Here I was do­ing scenes with some of the best act­ors in the coun­try,” said Lovitz, 57. “I re­mem­ber think­ing, did I just peak in my first couple of years on the show? How am I go­ing to top this? But I hoped I could and just kept mov­ing for­ward.”

And so he did. After leav­ing the cast of SNL in 1990, he en­joyed con­tin­ued suc­cess as an act­or on film, stage and tele­vi­sion, turn­ing in mem­or­able per­form­ances in such films as A League of Their Own and Small Time Crooks, where he ful­filled a child­hood dream of work­ing with his com­edy idol Woody Al­len.

Over the years, Lovitz has also en­joyed a long tele­vi­sion ca­reer, in­clud­ing News Ra­dio, Friends, Just Shoot Me and oth­ers.

But with all his cred­its, be­lieve it or not, Lovitz was un­able to work up the nerve to per­form stan­dup com­edy un­til re­cently, he con­fessed.

“I was al­ways go­ing to do stan­dup the same way some guys say they were go­ing to climb Mt. Everest. But it took un­til the early 2000s to ac­tu­ally do a five-minute set at the Laugh Fact­ory in Hol­ly­wood.”

Today, Lovitz de­scribes him­self as an act­or/comedi­an who also likes to sing, something he’ll show audi­ences at his up­com­ing ap­pear­ance at the com­edy club.

“I’ve man­aged to get over some of my fears, and now I find stan­dup very ful­filling be­cause I can do any­thing I want to do. I can tell jokes, sing songs, play the pi­ano. It’s great not to have to take an­oth­er job and just do this for a liv­ing.”

For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-496-9001. ••

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