Warehouse Alumni

by Sue Holland, contributing writer

Photo by Sue Holland.

Since opening in 1989, Disney's Comedy Warehouse has been home to a number of very talented performers. Several of them eventually moved on to follow a career path in other locations, leaving room for talented new people to join the cast. Fortunately, almost everyone who has left ends up returning to fill in on an occasional basis, to the delight of the guests who enjoyed that actor's work. This article profiles five such Comedy Warehouse alumni. We'll learn what they have done since leaving the cast, and where you might find them today. Combined, they represent 36 years of experience at the Comedy Warehouse and they were all very popular with audiences during their tenure.

Greg Triggs. Photo by Sue Holland.

Greg Triggs was a member of the Comedy Warehouse cast from 1992 until 2003, when he moved to New York City. During his years at the Warehouse, Greg performed in more than 9,000 shows! Prior to moving to Orlando he worked at the Brave New Workshop, a sketch comedy and improvisation club in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While at Disney, Greg worked as a show director, writer and performer. He worked on the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom and was both associate show director and scriptwriter for the Super Bowl XXXIV 2000 halftime show, Tapestry of Nations. He also created ABC Super Soap Spin, a soap opera trivia game show hosted by Walt Willey (from All My Children) during Super Soap Weekend at the Disney-MGM Studios, and served as audience co-host at the Linda Dano Talk Show during the soap opera events.

Greg has directed several shows in the Orlando Theatre Project, and his Fairy Tales was the winner of Best Production at the Orlando Fringe Festival (description) in 2002. He has also taught improvisation and creativity seminars all over the world,including Yaounde, Africa with Mary Thompson Hunt. For the past two years he has taught annual programs (“Jcoreyography”) in Nashville with fellow Comedy Warehouse alumni Jennifer Bascom. In case being an accomplished director, scriptwriter, performer and teacher is not enough, Greg is also a journalist. His “What Would Greg Do?” column appears in publications in Orlando (Watermark) and Nashville, Tennessee. (Out and About).

Greg Triggs with Christine Decker. Photo by Sue Holland.

Since moving to New York, Greg has continued his busy professional schedule. He wrote and directed a show in the Tribeca Film Festival, has written for All My Children and General Hospital, and is writing a new show for Carnegie Hall is called How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? and Greg will also serve as emcee. At the Philadelphia Zoo, Greg has written and directed both Safari Quest (2003) and Jungle Trek (2004). He was the star of a recent episode of The Pros and the Cons on The Learning Channel, pretending to be a professional wedding planner. The bride and groom selected him to plan their wedding, not knowing Greg had no prior experience. Finally, he recently started performing improvisation and stand-up comedy at the New York City Comedy Club. He also appears at the Comedy Warehouse from time to time, as his schedule permits, and works each year on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.

Whether he's writing, performing, directing or working in any other capacity—if a project has Greg Triggs associated with it, you can be certain it will be first-rate.

Jennifer Bascom. Photo by Sue Holland.

Jennifer Bascom was a member of the cast from 1999 until 2003, when she moved to Los Angeles. She was part of the opening cast of the improvisational comedy clubs on board the Disney Cruise Line ships (the former Off Beat on the Disney Magic and Barrel of Laughs on the Disney Wonder), which made her transition to the Comedy Warehouse a logical move. Jennifer has performed in a number of off-Broadway shows, independent films and television commercials. She went on a national tour for Disney and performed at the Freestyle Repertory Company. After moving to central Florida, Jennifer also worked doing improvisational comedy at SAK Theater Comedy Lab in downtown Orlando, on nights she was not scheduled to appear at the Comedy Warehouse. In 2002 she appeared in the wonderful musical Fairy Tales, directed by Greg Triggs.

Jennifer Bascom in a scene with Greg Triggs. Photo by Sue Holland.

Since moving to Los Angeles, Jennifer has busy teaching improvisation and filming commercials. She can currently be seen in a national commercial for Healthy Choice. She also appears at L.A. Comedy Sportz, along with several other improv performers who have worked at the Comedy Warehouse. Future projects include the potential West Coast premiere of Fairy Tales. Jennifer acts, sings, is terrific at improv and most certainly has a bright future ahead of her.

Jen Kober. Photo provided by Jen Kober.

Jen Kober worked at the Comedy Warehouse from 1999 until 2002. Prior to her years in Orlando, Jen worked as a stand-up comedian, did a national tour of her one-woman show (Subcity) and was an improv performer at ImprovOlympics in Chicago. She currently lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and has a schedule that would leave most of us exhausted. She still tours the country doing stand-up comedy, and headlined at the Las Vegas Comedy Fest, where she won Best of the Fest in both 2002 and 2003. In 2002 she also was named Houston Comedy Games Champion in stand-up. Jen also has her own band, called The Wicked Funny Hella Cool Band, which won the Houston 2002 group competition.

Jen recently opened her own comedy club in Lake Charles called Jen Kober's Big Brick House. A former grocery warehouse, Jen has converted the building into an 800-seat theater. The venue books nationally touring comedians, and dinner theatre-style shows are performed once a month. It can also be booked for special events, and is definitely worth a visit if you're in the Lake Charles area.

Jen Kober hosting “Schmeopardy” at the Comedy Warehouse. Photo by Sue Holland.

Last August, Jen had a small character role in the John Goodman film, Home of Phobia, which received great reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. It is expected to be released during the summer 2004. Each weekday Jen can be heard on her morning radio show on B104 in Lake Charles from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. She also has a local cable TV show on Cox Channel 8 called Jen Kober's Big Fat TV Show, which airs five nights a week. Understandably, Jen's busy schedule prevents her from returning to the Comedy Warehouse too often, but she's been thrilled to see so many of her fans show up at her performances in Lake Charles. Additional information on her radio show and performance schedule can be found at JenKober.com.

Mark Lainer (photo provided by Mark Lainer).

Mark Lainer probably has the most unusual educational background, with a degree in neuroscience, graduating magna cum laude. Luckily for us he left the world of research biologists and accountants—he also worked as an accountant and taught accounting at a college on an island off the coast of Kenya—to pursue what has ended up being a very successful career as a performer. His Comedy Warehouse experience spanned from 1990 until 2001, and he currently appears there on a part-time basis.

Mark has numerous film credits, including a starring role in the Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning Florida State University student film Slow Dancin' Down the Aisles of the Quick Check, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and won several prizes. He appeared in a recurring role on the syndicated series The Cape and was featured in Episode Five of the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. He also had featured roles in the syndicated television show Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, ABC's Second Noah, Fox's Fortune Hunter and NBC's SeaQuest DSV, to name a few. Mark has also appeared in numerous television commercials, and is currently seen in ones for Middleton Pest Control, Florida's Natural Orange Juice and Publix Supermarkets.

Mark Lainer takes a turn hosting Schmeopardy. Photo by Sue Holland.

Mark's theatrical experience includes working at several venues in New York City, Massachusetts, central Florida and Los Angeles. He was a member of the Resident Company, on the board of the Orlando Theatre Project and has also written and performed in many special events. Mark was one of the founding members of the Who, What and Warehouse Improv Company at the Comedy Warehouse and has performed improv in New York City. He also writes, directs and performs in many special corporate events and leads training seminars in the application of improvisational techniques to the business world. For more information on Mark, visit MarkLainer.com.

Steve Purnick. Photo by Sue Holland.

Steve Purnick started at the Comedy Warehouse in 1991, and was the first actor to appear on stage during the first show I attended. He spent eight years in the cast before moving to Los Angeles, and his many talents have kept him very busy. Before joining the Comedy Warehouse Steve had extensive improv experience in New York City. He appeared with Chicago City Limits, Unexpected Company and the All-Star Improv Jam.

While he was in Orlando he performed improv at SAK Theatre Comedy Lab downtown (review) and was a series regular on Nickelodeon's The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. In addition, he created and produced a live sketch-comedy show called Trendy Britches, and was executive producer/creator of a sketch-comedy series pilot called Chucklehead.

After leaving Comedy Warehouse Steve performed improv in Hollywood with The Houseful of Honkeys, and currently can be seen most weekends at Comedy Sportz. He went on tour with Wayne Brady, doing improv in Wayne Brady and Friends. He also appeared in BOO!—an improv and sketch comedy show at the New York New York Casino in Las Vegas. Steve appeared with Rita Rudner on her syndicated series Ask Rita, in the film Project V.I.P.E.R. and has done several commercials. Steve has sold a screenplay and is now an official member of the Writer's Guild of America. He tours the country performing at corporate events and, fortunately for us, has managed to make several visits back “home” to work at the Comedy Warehouse.

Steve Purnick creates a scene with Matt at the Comedy Warehouse. Photo by Sue Holland.

Although Comedy Warehouse fans hate to see any of the actors leave the cast, they ultimately wish them success and take comfort in the fact that these performers all return to visit, and will get themselves on the schedule to work during those trips. When Greg, Jennifer, Jen, Mark and Steve return for a few shows, it's a real treat for everyone. No matter how long it's been since their last visit, they are as terrific and funny as they were when they were here full time. Regardless of when you visit the Comedy Warehouse you can expect to have a great time, and if you happen to see any of these five people on the stage you'll know you are there on a special night indeed.