Gary Austin is the founder and original director of The Groundlings, Los Angeles' premier character-based improv company, which celebrated its 30th Anniversary Season in 2004. Many of Saturday Night Live's actors and writers have come from The Groundlings. He began his professional career as a performing member of San Francisco's famed improv company, The Committee, where he worked with Second City's Del Close. Gary holds a BA Degree in Theatre from San Francisco State University. Gary conducts workshops and develops projects with actors and writers in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago and Washington DC, with special guest visits to cities all over the world. He's a frequent guest-instructor at The Pit in New York, at Artistic New Directions in New York, and at Second City in Chicago and New York. He also co-teaches with his wife, Wenndy MacKenzie, the highly regarded vocal coach.
Gary is developing theatre projects in New York, Seattle, DC and Los Angeles, some of which are currently in production. He directs WORKS IN PROGRESS for Artistic New Directions in New York. "My purpose in presenting these original works is to help people develop projects of their own." Gary has performed his solo shows, Church, and Oil in New York, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Seattle, DC, Woodstock, New York and Fort Collins, Colorado. His students work throughout the world of entertainment as actors, singers, comedians, writers, directors and producers. Some notable artists to come from The Groundlings are Lisa Kudrow, Will Ferrell, Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), Laraine Newman, Kathy Griffin, Cheryl Hines, Jon Lovitz, Chris Kattan, Cheri Oteri, Maya Rudolph, Julia Sweeney, Phil LaMarr, Ana Gasteyer, Mindy Sterling and the late Phil Hartman.
Gary's other students include Oscar winner Helen Hunt, Jennifer Grey, Helen Slater, Lindsay Crouse (Oscar nominee), Tony winner Lillias White, the late Pat Morita (Oscar nominee), the late Jack Soo (BARNEY MILLER), Donna Summer, Loretta DeVine, Keith David, Mark Dacascos ( IRON CHEF AMERICA), Robert David Hall (CSI), Danielle Panabaker (SHARK, MR. BROOKS), Kay Panabaker (FAME, MARRIAGE), and Casey Wilson (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). Gary and his work have been featured on NPR's Fresh Air, in major trades, and in several books, including Acting Teachers of America by Ronald Rand, The Actors Guide to Qualified Acting Coaches (both LA and NY) by Larry Silverberg, and The Funniest One in the Room - The Lives and Legends of Del Close by Kim "Howard" Johnson.
"I would like to thank my acting teachers, Lurene Tuttle, Gordon Hunt, Larry Moss, GARY AUSTIN, for giving me a way to learn about myself and the world and a way to express myself." -Helen Hunt (Oscar Acceptance Speech) "Working with Gary Austin, he's made me aware of everything in my daily life; it's made me freer as a performer to take more chances." -Tony Winner Lillias White (as quoted in Acting Teachers of America by Ronald Rand) Gary Austin has also formed an alliance with award winning Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood, California. Gary conducts workshops at Deaf West composed of both deaf and hearing actors. Deaf West's production of the musical, Big River, recently went to Broadway, followed by a national tour.