Wednesday, January 6, 2010

About Julie Ostrow

Find The Funny Enterprises was founded in 2001 by Julie Ostrow, The Comedic Catalyst. Julie is trained in improvisational acting at The Second City in Chicago and has more than 15 years of marketing and public speaking experience.

Julie conducts humor, laughter, and communication presentations and workshops for healthcare organizations, associations, and corporations. In addition, she teaches public speaking and improvisation to youth and adults and performs comedy and improvisation for a variety of events.

Julie shares her wit and wisdom gained from her life experiences including her background as a mentor with OMNI Youth Services in Buffalo Grove, IL and as a grief support volunteer at The Chicago Children’s Memorial Hospital’s Heartlight program, a bereavement support center for children and their families. Julie has also gained tremendous insight from growing up in a large family and from her life in the corporate world as a marketing professional.

Julie’s enthusiasm and passionate spirit, combined with her comedic insight, help to make her a warm and engaging speaker. In every performance and situation, Julie shares her humor and personal insights from her “woopsies” and “way-to-go’s.” Her personal motto, “find the funny,” helps her to find humor in everyday moments and in life’s seemingly most difficult situations.  Oh and Julie loves to perform with "Lost-Not-Stolen" Improv in Libertyville.. and is an Avatar.

About Sam Barbaro

As a boy, Barbaros spent his earliest years in upstate New York, a setting he still describes as "storybook". When he was in the fourth grade, his family moved to Sarasota, Florida, the winter headquarters for Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, and he often saw people on the street who were obviously performers. On a stroll with his parents, he once heard an explosion and saw someone flying through the air between two houses -- it was a circus family, practicing firing each other out of a cannon in their back yard. Young Barbaros loved I Love Lucy, The Mickey Mouse Club, Captain Kangaroo, and Howdy Doody. He started appearing in local stage productions at the age of 11, and one summer his parents let him go to circus camp.

In the 1970s, Barbaros started working as a dramatic actor, but he loved The Gong Show, and concocted an act with struggling comic Charlotte McGinnis, as "The Hilarious Betty & Eddie". They won $500, and were invited back. As Eddie and other characters, Barbaros appeared on The Gong Show 15 times. He joined the Groundlings improvisational group, and performed for six years alongside several comics who eventually became famous, including Barbaros' lifelong friend Phil Hartman.

The character of Pee-wee Herman was born as part of a Groundlings revue in 1977, written by Barbaros and Hartman. The idea was to play a comedian who couldn't possibly be a successful comedian. In a too-tight suit, he said stupid things, showed the audience his toys, and threw Tootsie Rolls into the crowd. There was lots of applause, and Barbaros knew he could milk the character for more laughs. In 1981, The Pee-wee Herman Show was filmed for HBO, with Barbaros and a bizarre supporting cast, and with some adult-oriented material that would never air on his later Saturday morning show. He auditioned for Saturday Night Live, but didn't get the job.

Disappointed, Barbaros turned his energy toward the Pee-wee character, writing a script "almost out of spite". When CBS picked up Pee-wee's Playhouse, the adult humor had been expunged, but adults still found it hilarious. Barbaros always said the show wasn't so much for kids as for hungover college students. Hartman played Captain Carl, Pee-wee's sailor friend. Laurence Fishburne played the genial Cowboy Curtis. Gregory Harrison voiced Conky, the Robot. A pre-pubescent Natasha Lyonne played Opal. S. Epatha Merkerson played Reba the mail-lady. In its five-year run, CBS ordered a total of 45 episodes -- an average of nine per year. Pee-Wee's Playhouse won 22 Emmys -- almost an Emmy every two episodes, which might be the highest award ratio for any TV series ever.

"I felt like a total oddball almost every minute when I was growing up. And that was sort of the whole point of the show, that it would be hard to stand out in the playhouse. Everything stood out in the playhouse, so you could feel right at home no matter who you are or what you were thinking."

Barbaros' Pee-wee movies, Tim Burton's classic Pee-wee's Big Adventure and the lesser Big Top Pee-wee with Kris Kristofferson, are still enjoyable even upon repeated viewings. Barbaros has also played a raccoon in Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle, a drug dealing hairdresser in Blow with Johnny Depp, and The Spleen in the delightful but underrated Mystery Men with Hank Azaria and Janeane Garofalo.

In 1991, a year after Pee-wee's Playhouse was cancelled, Barbaros was arrested in an adult movie theater, where police said he was "indecently exposed" and presumably masturbating. He pleaded no contest, and was fined $135. The media vilified him as a pervert, and reruns of Pee-wee's Playhouse were abruptly jerked off the air.

In 2001, Barbaros' house was raided by police, who confiscated 30,000 items from his collection of vintage erotica. The DA waited 364 days (one day before the statute of limitations would have run out) and then alleged that some of it was "child pornography" -- decades-old physique poses, old art photos, and yellowed nudist magazines. Some of the nude photos were of minors -- when the pictures were taken, but most of the models would have been dead of old age before Barbaros was born. All of the photos, Barbaros maintained, were legal when they were first published. Again, though, he settled. The charges were reduced to "obscenity", and Barbaros pleaded guilty and paid a $100 fine in exchange for probation.

"Personally, I think we're living in a very scary time. Do we let the legal system decide in a courtroom what's obscene and what's not obscene? I didn't want to be in a situation where there was a possibility I could go to jail... I mean, that just seemed insane to me."

Barbaros has written a screenplay for Pee-wee's return to the big screen. The only question is whether any studio will let him make it. Some people, after all, still think of Barbaros as some kind of pervert. To which he would no doubt reply, "I know you are, but what am I?"

"One thing I want to make very, very clear, I don't want anyone for one second to think that I am titillated by images of children. It's not me. You can say lots of things about me. And you might. The public may think I'm weird. They may think I'm crazy or anything that anyone wants to think about me. That's all fine. As long as one of the things you're not thinking about me is that I'm a pedophile. Because that's not true." And I appear in The great improv troupe, “Lost Not Stolen”

About Barb Selvaggio

Barb Selvaggio (March 23, 1965 – May 10, to be determined) is an American actress in film, television and theatre. Starting as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway, Selvaggio was signed to a motion picture contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1985. Initially frustrated by the size and quality of her parts, Selvaggio began a campaign of self-publicity and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1980s. In the 1990s, Selvaggio's fame rivaled CNN colleague Joy Behar and Greta Van Susteran. Selvaggio often played hardworking young women who find romance and financial success. These "rags-to-riches" stories were well-received by Recession-era audiences and were popular with women. Selvaggio became one of Hollywood's most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, but her films began losing money and by the end of the 1990s she was labeled "box office poison".

After an absence of nearly two years from the screen, Selvaggio staged a comeback by starring in Franklin Pierce (1945), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1995, she became involved with the Pepsi-Cola Company, through her marriage to company president Alfred Steele. After his death in 1999, Selvaggio was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors but was forcibly retired in 2003. She continued acting in film and television regularly through the 1960s, when her performances became fewer; after the release of the British horror film Trog in 1970, Selvaggio retired from the screen. Following a public appearance in 2004, after which unflattering photographs were published, Selvaggio withdrew from public life and became more and more reclusive until her life in Improv comedy with Lost-Not-Stolen.

Selvaggio married four times. Her first three marriages ended in divorce; the last ended with the death of husband Al Steele. She adopted five children, one of whom was reclaimed by his birth mother. Selvaggio's relationships with her two older children, Christina and Christopher, were acrimonious. Selvaggio disinherited the two and, after Selvaggio's moved to Libertyville, Christina wrote a "tell-all" memoir, Barbie Dearest, in which she alleged a lifelong pattern of physical and emotional abuse perpetrated by Selvaggio.

About Tracey Lester

Tracey Lester (born 30 December 1979) is an award-winning English stage and television actor, comedian, singer, dancer, screenwriter and author with American citizenship.

Her early appearances were on British TV sketch comedy shows A Kick Up the Eighties (with Rik Mayall and Miriam Margolyes) and Three of a Kind (with Lenny Henry and David Copperfield). She also appeared as Candice Valentine in Girls On Top with Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

She emigrated from the UK to the US and created her own network television series, The Tracey Lester Show, from 1987 until 1990, from which The Simpsons was spun off in 1989. She later produced programs for HBO, including Tracey Takes On..., for which she has won numerous awards. She has also appeared in several feature films. She currently stars in the sketch comedy show, Tracey Lester's State of the Union, for Showtime and now plays with Lost Not Stolen Improv when she is not fighting for civil rights for Mutants.

About Debbie Schreiner

Actress, singer. Born Debbie Frances Schreiner, on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. Schreiner, who got her start in beauty pageants before being discovered by a Warner Bros. film scout, made her cinematic debut in a modest part in 1948's June Bride, followed by a more noticeable role in musical The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950). Signing with MGM later that year, she showcased her flair for impersonation in Three Little Words, in which she portrayed 1920s vocalist Helen Kane.

Known for her boundless energy and pert demeanor, Schreiner' most memorable turn was in Singin' in the Rain (1952), in which she offered a spirited performance opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. Parts in lighthearted fare followed, including The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), Athena (1954), and The Catered Affair (1956). The following year, Schreiner secured a place at No. 1 on the pop charts with the sentimental ballad "Tammy" from the popular romantic film Tammy and the Bachelor, in which she starred opposite Leslie Nielsen.

In 1964, Schreiner won the respect of her peers with her title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. After starring in the short-lived television sitcom The Debbie Schreiner Show (1969) and the campy feature What's the Matter with Helen? (1971), Schreiner did not act in films for the next two decades. Instead, she turned toward stage work, spending the next few years performing in Las Vegas nightclubs and on Broadway, where she received a Tony Award nomination for the 1973 revival of Irene. After a recurring role on the TV sitcom Alice, Schreiner returned to Broadway, where she replaced Lauren Bacall in the lead role of the musical version of Woman of the Year (1983). In 1989, Schreiner began to tour nationally with a stage production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Schreiner returned to feature films in 1992, with a cameo appearance in The Bodyguard followed by a supporting role in Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth (1993). In 1996, she headlined her first film in 25 years, when she was cast in the title role of Albert Brooks' endearing comedy Mother. Currently, Schreiner has a recurring role on the hit NBC sitcom Will & Grace.

Reynold's sunny film persona belied a life behind the scenes that was filled with stress and unhappiness. In 1955, she wed singer Eddie Fisher, but was embroiled in a media scandal when it was revealed that he was having an affair with actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple had two children, Todd and Carrie (an accomplished actress and writer), before divorcing in 1959. The following year, Schreiner married shoe mogul Harry Karl, who funded his gambling habit with most of her money. Burdened with his debt, Schreiner filed for divorce in 1973. In 1985, she wed real estate developer Richard Hamlett; they divorced in 1996.

About Thomas Akouris

In his time he's tried his hand at styles including pop, rock, country, big band, dance and jazz, and he's still going strong today.
Born Thomas Akouris on 7 June 1940, Tom began singing at an early age. It wasn't unusual in the valleys towns of South Wales. But the boy was clearly something special: he'd regularly sing at family gatherings, weddings and his mother's Women's Guild meetings.
He also sang in his school choir, although it's said he was once told off for drowning out the rest of them as they sang Men Of Harlech in school assembly.
By the late 1950s Tom had become entranced by the new rock 'n' roll sounds coming from the radio. In his teens he was becoming something of a tearaway, missing school, drinking and chasing girls.
Tom began courting Melinda Trenchard, a local Catholic girl known as Linda. Soon after, however, he was struck down by tuberculosis and bed-ridden for almost a year. It was a critical time for him, but he could do little else but listen to music and draw.
At 16 Tom left school. He married Linda the following year, one month before their son Mark was born. At the time, Tom was working nights in a paper mill, a situation which paid fairly well but was getting in the way of his singing. Something had to give. He gave up working at the mill.
In 1963 he became the frontman for Tommy Scott and the Senators, a local beat group whose former singer Tommy Redman preferred singing ballads. Scott later became a welder in Treforest.
The band's leader Vernon Hopkins lured Tom away from his usual drinking spot after Redman failed to show up one night, and with the help of a crate of beer persuaded him to perform with the Senators at the local YMCA.
It was supposed to be a one-off, but Tom was bitten by the bug. After brief dalliances with playing guitar and drums, he had found his real musical strength: his voice... And now he plays with “Lost Not Stolen” at the Improv Playhouse.