Comedian/actor Jon Lovitz has Anteater roots

Inspired by his comic idols, Al Jolson and the Marx Brothers, Jon Lovitz came to UCI in the mid-70s to study acting. In September, he’ll be back in Irvine at the Barclay to offer up his personal brand of stand-up.

A self-professed ham in his undergraduate days, Lovitz was honing his Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce routines in his dorm room and studying “Great Acting” (yes, that was the name of the class) during the day with his drama professor Robert Cohen.

With 21 plays under his belt, he graduated in ’79 with lifelong memories and a foreboding feeling of perpetual unemployment.

But, after brief stints working in a clothing store and a xerox shop, he joined the Groundlings, an improvisational comedy troupe based in Los Angeles, and his career took flight. By 1985, he was a regular on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, emerging as one of the show’s stars, thanks to his hysterically broad characters, including Tommy Flanagan: The Pathological Liar, Hanukkah Harry and The Devil. 

One of his most memorable creations was Master Thespian, the ruthlessly ambitious egomaniacal actor. Created during his time at UCI, the sketch was inspired by former UCI drama professor William Needles. 

In short order, Lovitz became a Hollywood mainstay in such movies as City Slickers II, A League of Their Own and The Wedding Singer—and as Jay Sherman in the acclaimed cult cartoon series, The Critic.When Lovitz wanted to try his hand at stand-up (he is one of the few performers to start as an actor and then become a stand-up comedian), his comedy compatriots came up with some undeniably unique advice: “Just have fun,” they said.

But, that is, of course, what this Anteater has been doing all along… “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”