The Committee: a Secret History of American Comedy


The Committee: A Secret History of American Comedy is a documentary series about an improvisational comedy troupe with an edge in a time of uncertainty and social upheaval. Born in 1963 in San Francisco’s post-Beat North Beach, The Committee was more political than The Second City, more hip than George Carlin, and more drug-hazed than Cheech and Chong. The Committee’s “hidden” influence on both political satire and improvisational theater is closely examined in this epic multi-episode deep dive that features rare archival comedy and music, animation, and contemporary interviews.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Jamie Wright (Writer, Director, Producer) is a Bay Area native, but he started his work in comedy and video in Amsterdam for the improv & sketch comedy theater Boom Chicago. There he shot, wrote and directed short videos for theater, mobile and the web, including the pre-YouTube viral hit Florida Voting Machine for the 2004 presidential election, which garnered an EPICA Award nomination for best short animation. During his time at Boom Chicago he was pleased to create live shows and comedy shorts with Seth Meyers (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Jason Sudekis (SNL, Horrible Bosses), Kay Cannon (30 Rock), Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project), and an amazing collection of other talents. While in Amsterdam, he pioneered the theatrical integration of live video and improvisation with Boom’s cast and technical crew. His work has appeared on broadcast television in Europe and the US, and has been featured on CNN and in Time Magazine. Jamie was also an actor and writer on the award-winning 2002 short, Dance Machine, and with the San Francisco improv troupe Crisis Hopkins from 2007 through 2012. He is Executive Producer of the San Francisco Improv Festival

Sam Shaw (Writer, Director, Producer) is a performer and producer of improvisational theater and sketch comedy and a first-time documentary filmmaker. Sam co-founded The San Francisco Improv Festival and has produced improv and sketch comedy workshops, shows, and small troupes with silly names like Crisis Hopkins, Tornado Espinoza, and his current duo (with actor Cassidy Jamahl Brown) Rusty Nails. Sam’s work with The Committee started with a San Francisco Improv Festival panel discussion in 2010 and since then has included the production of Larry Hankin’s solo show Street Stories at the Marsh Theater and an amazing Committee 50th birthday party that featured a reunion of The Committee and special appearances by Senator Mark Leno and State Democratic Party Chair John Burton. Sam is a resident of San Francisco, a non-profit fundraiser by day, and a proud parent of a San Francisco USD student.

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Year: 2018
  • Running time: 200
  • Director(s): Jamie Wright & Sam Shaw
  • Producer(s): Jamie Wright & Sam Shaw, et al
  • Cinematographer(s): Justin Chin
  • Editor(s): Jamie Wright
  • Music: David Schmoll
  • With: Alan Myerson, Latifah Taormina, Howard Hesseman, Wavy Gravy, Carl Gottlieb, Larry Hankin, Peter Bonerz, Barbara Bosson, et al
  • Website:

FSP 1587