How Comedian Jon Lovitz Got Early Inspiration In Orange County

Jon Lovitz, the comic star behind dozens of memorable characters, got early inspiration in Orange County.

Illustration by Amy Hood

An Evening with Jon Lovitz” at the Irvine Barclay Theatre this month is a homecoming for the comedian. The actor and former “Saturday Night Live” star was an Anteater, Class of ’79, who based his signature “SNL” character, the pompous Master Thespian, on a former drama professor at UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Here are a few fun facts about the unconventional performer.

 

He made a memorable appearance on “Celebrity Jeopardy!”

The show ended in a three-way tie, with Lovitz and fellow contestants—track star Carl Lewis and actor Matthew Fox—failing to earn any money. A highlight for “Jeopardy!” fans was Lovitz’s teasing remarks to host Alex Trebek: “You always come off so smart in this show. You have all the answers right there.”

In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked him in the top 20 of “SNL” cast members.

Lovitz’s tenure from 1985 through 1990 earned him two Emmy awards and spawned Master Thespian, self-described as the world’s greatest actor whose “Acting!” became a catchphrase, as well as Tommy Flanagan of Pathological Liars Anonymous, known for the line, “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

He can sing—no joke.

The son of an opera-loving doctor, Lovitz grew up around classical music. Yes, he sang a comedic version of Kool & the Gang’s “Ladies Night” playing Adam Sandler’s rival in “The Wedding Singer” (1998), but he has also performed at Carnegie Hall three times, including “Great Performances: Ira Gershwin at 100,” and has sung the national anthem at Dodger Stadium and the U.S. Open. He also sang with English rock star Robbie Williams at the Royal Albert Hall and performed a Verdi aria as Luciano Pavarotti on the ABC reality show “Sing Your Face Off.”

He acted in a hit Broadway play by Neil Simon.

“The Dinner Party,” a comedy about love, marriage, and divorce set in Paris, starred John Ritter and Henry Winkler when it debuted in 1999 at the Mark Taper Forum. It became a hit when it opened on Broadway the following year. Lovitz joined the cast in 2001, replacing Winkler, along with Larry Miller, who took over for Ritter.

He’s a frequent guest star on “The Simpsons.”

Lovitz has voiced such characters as Artie Ziff, a software billionaire and Marge’s high school prom date; Ms. Sinclair, owner of the Ayn Rand School for Tots, and Ms. Sinclair’s brother, stage director Llewellyn Sinclair. In a recent episode, “Fears of a Clown,” Llewellyn Sinclair encourages Krusty the Clown, who wants to leave comedy and become a serious actor. “Tonight, you’ll make theater history,” Sinclair says. “How do I know? Because I just took six Valiums.”

See him!
Lovitz will perform at the Barclay Theatre Sept. 29. thebarclay.org

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