Walk of Fame Honoree McCarthy Has Her Roots In the Groundlings

Comedian Jim Rash remembers very well Melissa McCarthy’s pitches at the Groundlings.

“She would go, ‘And this point is where I would love somehow to be able to fly over the audience,’ ” Rash says.

It’s just one of the impossible feats Melissa McCarthy proposed during her days working with Rash as a member of the Los Angeles-based improvisational sketch comedy troupe.

Since it was founded over 40 years ago, the Groundlings has launched many comedy stars, including McCarthy, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. The company doesn’t have permanent creative leaders; instead it runs as a democracy. Aspiring comedians start at level one and work their way up until they are selected by the current cast to join the top performing company, capped at 30 members.

Rash met McCarthy about 15 years ago, when she was in the Sunday company (one level below the top), and he was her director. He remembers her ability to create hilarious, fearless and specific characters. “Whether they’re lovable losers, or overly confident losers, or just fantastic brassy women, she knew how to play them,” he says.

And she knew how to dress them too. Rash laughs that costuming has always been one of her strong suits, especially wigs. Case in point: the costume McCarthy dons in her upcoming feature film “Michelle Darnell,” which is based on a character she created when she was performing for the Groundlings.

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