Thomas Middleditch: Ready for anything after riffing Bard

10 Comics to Watch

When Thomas Middleditch was asked to be a part of the Improvised Shakespeare Company — a Chicago-based improv troupe that performs spontaneous plays in stilted, Elizabethan-sounding English — his first thought was “That sounds impossible. Sure.”

As the breakout of the group, Middleditch went on to set another, equally exciting challenge for himself with his next project. He had written a two-person sketch featuring two snooty teenage girl parts, both performed in total darkness. After the bit bombed, Middleditch shelved it, but at the insistence of his manager Kirsten Ames, he added animation; the resulting “Worst Friends Forever” pilot is currently being produced by Mike Judge at MTV.

“It’s a weird life lesson that improv teaches you: Just say yes and jump in,” Middleditch explains. “But I never call myself an improviser. I’m an actor, a comedian.”

Early on, the lanky and energetic Canadian moved to Toronto to attend the prestigious George Brown theater conservatory (“lots of voice coaches in loose-knit sweaters”) but dropped out to pound the sketch comedy pavement like his idols Kids in the Hall. When Toronto’s Second City branch rejected him, he moved to Chicago — the Second City motherland.

Now living in Los Angeles, Middleditch continues to write and star in various online shorts, playing a guy who hates Ghostbusters (for Funny or Die) and the ShamWow spokesman in prison (for CollegeHumor.com).

Onscreen, he leveraged his turn as the lead in indie “Splinterheads” into a role in Josh Schwartz’s “Fun Size.” There was even this recent film audition — for a part that would require Middleditch to be nude the entire time. “I’d have to show my balls and my dick,” Middleditch says. “But it worked for Ken Jeong, so yeah, I’ll go for it. Sure!”

LAUGH FACTS
P.O.V.: “I hold onto little boy stuff. Like, just recently, I bought a remote-control helicopter because I always wanted one. I’m an adult. I can afford one. I’m getting two!”
Influences: “Monty Python, League of Gentlemen, anything that Steve Merchant and Ricky Gervais do.”
Reps: WME/Kirsten Ames Mgmt.

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