2020 Diversity Festival Shows and Panels

The Groundlings Theatre and School is proud to announce our 4th Annual Diversity Festival on November 13-15, 2020. Taking place entirely online this year, The Groundlings have expanded their previous one-day event to a three-day weekend extravaganza with full days of sketch and improv classes, panels, and shows. The Groundlings also welcome back sponsors NBC and Nickelodeon for the fourth year in a row.  


Students will take part in a diverse and inclusive Power WOW class series during the week, culminating in a showcase. Come see the amazing talent of our student population!

Director/Instructor: Michael Churven, Cast: Gaby Sandoval, Rosena Cornet, Dawn Dai, Mary-Elizabeth Benson, Sean Grant, Donovan Mitchell, Jay Pichard, Victor Torres

Minority Retorts is a live storytelling show featuring the outnumbered! Hear true stories the underrepresented, the underdogs, people of color & colorful people! No theme. No notes. Funny? Tragic? Both! We’re inclusive!

Cast: Randall Park, Marques Ray, Ginger Gonzaga, Kassie Thornton, Christy Thornton.

Hosted by Roxana Ortega & Leonard Robinson

An amazing group of young up-and-coming performers will take part in a Groundlings Teen class series during the week, culminating in a showcase. Watch these young stars shine!

A night of sketch comedy from the women of the Main Company!

Cast: Allison Dunbar, Samantha DeSurra, Patty Guggenheim, Lyric Lewis, Edi Patterson, Emily Pendergast, Jessica Pohly, Ariane Price, Lisa Schurga, Annie Sertich.

Directed by Lauren Burns


Our panel of guest speakers with disabilities will delve into the tribulations, barriers, and inspirational experiences they’ve faced on stage and in front of the camera.

Panelists: Courtney Gilmour, Maysoon Zayid, Danny Woodburn, and Tatiana Lee

Moderator: Phyllis Katz

The Black Version is a completely improvised show that started at the Groundings Theatre in Los Angeles in 2010. The director asks the audience to suggest a popular film title and then the cast improvises the “Black Version” of that film. Members of the cast of ‘The Black Version’ show

Panelists: Jordan Black, Gary Anthony Williams, Cedric Yarbrough, Nyima Funk, Daniele Gaither and Phil LaMarr

Moderator: Karen Maruyama

Panelists will discuss the role gender has traditionally played in comedy and how gender identity is changing the landscape in new ways. Panelists have appeared on Transparent, Veep, Modern Family, Peewee’s Big Holiday, and Superstore.

Panelists: Daniele Gaither, Ian Harvie, Michael D. Cohen, Jessica Pohly, Emily Pendergast, Michael Churven, Greg Worswick

Moderator: Drew Droege

Black Women In Sketch Comedy Panel

November 15th @ 4:30pm

An in-depth conversation with three incredible writer-performers who have taken the sketch scene by storm! Panelists have appeared on Key & Peele, MadTV, Black Lady Sketch Show, The Nightly Show, A.P. Bio and Baskets.

Panelists: Lyric Lewis, Holly Walker, and Daniele Gaither

Moderator: Leonard Robinson

Many dream of making it to the SNL stage! These amazing performers span the decades long show, and will discuss the jump from sketch and improv to 30 Rock.

Panelists: Laraine Newman, Julia Sweeney, Cheri Oteri, and Chloe Fineman

Moderator: Will Forte