Eliza Coupe

10 Comics to Watch

Who: Three years ago, Coupe, a recent graduate from the theater program at CalArts, was touring the country playing a soldier in an all-female version of “King Lear.”

Shakespeare had worn her down: “I thought, ‘If I hear one more depressing Elizabethan, I’m going to lose it — I need to do something funny!'” says Coupe, 25.

The result of this epiphany was her one-woman sketch show, “The Patriots,” which premiered at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York last November and won her the breakout performer award at Aspen’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in March.

Developed while Coupe was training at the Groundlings and UCB, “The Patriots” is a collection of characters — a drunken bimbette, a 9-year-old Irish girl, a foulmouthed Bostonian — who embody the best and worst of American culture. “They’re the committee that lives in my head,” says the mile-a-minute Coupe.

Aspen producer Kirsten Ames first saw Coupe in a workshop in 2004 and became her manager.

“I’ve been scouting for six years, and when you see it, you know it,” she says. “She’s like a character actress in a leading-lady body.”

Coupe seems to be enjoying her newfound industry interaction. “Agents really feed you well,” she observes.

What’s going on: She’ll appear later this year in a new Sierra Mist ad campaign, and she has a small part in the upcoming Chris Rock movie, “I Think I Love My Wife.”

An MTV pilot for a sketch show with Nick Cannon is also in the pipeline.

“There are a lot of things — I’m going to use an industry phrase — ‘in the mix’ for me,” Coupe says. “I’ve gone out on six auditions in the last two days, and I’ve gotten callbacks on almost all of them.”

Take: “I think the terminology used in this industry is hilarious. I had a meeting the other day, and someone actually said in conversation, ‘Cut to next week.’ I looked around and was, like, what? Are we in a movie script right now?”

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