The Groundlings Diversity Festival takes inclusion and laughs online – Daily News

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Celebrate diverse voices in comedy and get some laughs for free with the Groundlings Theatre & School’s annual Diversity Festival.

Going online this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the festival, which runs Nov. 13-15, will include classes, panels and improv shows via Zoom.

And going online has allowed the Groundlings to expand the event from one day to three.

“This year we are no longer restricted by time and space and location. You can come from anywhere in the world and you can log in and get the Groundlings experience,” said Carrie LaFerle Gergely, the interim managing director for company.

Panels and shows will be free with highlights including a discussion about Black women in sketch comedy and the improv shows by current company members such as Leonard Robinson.

“Diversity has always been a big priority for us at the theater for a while. We want to get more underrepresented demographics interested in sketch and improv,” Robinson said.

Classes will cost $10 and include lessons in such as exploring characters of different genders as well as an improv class called “Lady-prov.”

“We want to help people find that authenticity, who they are and bring that to the stage, and bring that to their art form and bring that to their writing so that they are bringing their own experiences and celebrating them,” she said.

The Groundlings, which started in 1974 and counts famous comedians such as Melissa McCarthy, Will Ferrell, Kathy Griffin, Chris Kattan, Maya Rudolph and others as alumni, launched the Diversity Festival in 2017 at its Melrose Avenue venue.

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“We’re a diverse world and there are a lot of stories out there. They need to be told and I think it’s important that we hear these stories,” Gergely said.

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