Tag Archives: Dick Stahl

Happy Birthday Committee!

Fifty-first anniversaries are never quite as flashy as 50th anniversaries, but it’s always worth remembering the opening night of The Committee on April 10, 1963! Scott Beach, Hamilton Camp, Garry Goodrow, Larry Hankin, Kathryn Ish, accompanied by Ellsworth Milburn, stage managed by Dick Stahl, and directed by Alan Myerson, took the stage at 622 Broadway in San Francisco.

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(The Dick Cavett Show appearances, including the one with Janis Joplin, above, didn’t come until much later.)

Since that evening, a lot of talented folks took the stage as part of The Committee, and they influenced countless others, most of whom don’t even know it. Hopefully, Jamie Wright, Sam Shaw, and I will be able to change that in the next couple of years. Jamie and Sam, who do a terrific job producing the San Francisco Improv Fest every year, are producing a documentary on The Committee, and I’m working on my Committee book.

Anyone who has ever performed The Harold (or any other kind of longform improvisation), or been to the iO, UCB, Groundlings, The Annoyance, or so many other theatres and schools, or enjoyed the work of some of their alumni (including the much-in-the-news iO and Second City alum Stephen Colbert), owe an awful lot to these pioneers, and the upcoming documentary and book will tell you why.

Billy Jack Meets The Committee

It’s difficult to overestimate just how popular BILLY JACK was when it was first released, but for many people, it was the first chance they had to see the now-legendary West Coast improvisational theatre, The Committee. While researching and interviewing for my book on The Committee, I heard stories about filming for Tom Laughlin, who passed away recently. He knew great comedic talent, however, and used it to great advantage for his film. This was shot in the square in downtown Santa Fe in the spring of 1970, with real passers-by in the background watching the filming. Billy Jack featured a number of Committee performers, including Howard Hesseman (who was then known as Don Sturdy), Dick Stahl, Ed Greenberg, Dan Barrows (now known as Beans Morocco) and Alan Myerson. Enjoy.