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. ••