2016 is shaping up to be a healthy year for sketch comedy. Sure, we might have lost Key & Peele, but comedy fans can turn to Maya & Marty to help fill the void, and now we have the revival of MADtv to look forward to. The original MADtv celebrated its 20th anniversary back in January and while it originally competed against SNL on Fox, the new version is set to air on The CW, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. starting tonight, July 26. An earlier weekday time-slot might raise a few concerning eyebrows among fans of the parent version which garnered a cult following for its edgy comedy, but there’s reason for old fans to be excited. Original MADtv executive producer David E. Salzman will return as showrunner. Plus, the new lineup has a talented cast, drawing from different comedy backgrounds.
In preparation for the show’s return, let’s get to know the new generation of cast members and where you might have seen them before.
Jeremy Howard has been performing all his life, but started out as an athlete and singer who worked as a choir director before moving into comedy. The Alabama-born actor has built up a résumé appearing in numerous commercials and indie dramas like the 2016 film Hollywood Street, and caught the attention of casting directors after performing in a 2016 CBS talent showcase. He’s a regular performer with L.A. improv troupe The Mad JackRats, and known for eccentric characters like the unfiltered Sunbrella. (Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.)
You might already be familiar with Adam Ray, even if his name doesn’t ring any bells. The comic and actor is one of the busiest young performers out there right now, maintaining a stand-up comedy calendar, hosting a popular podcast, About Last Night, and co-hosting the TBS comedy game show Separation Anxiety. I should also mention that he’s appeared in two of the most popular comedy films of the last couple years: Spy and The Heat. And if a new gig on MADtv wasn’t enough, he provided the voice of Slimer in this summer’s Ghostbusters reboot. So, yes, he’s a busy dude. (Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.)
Michelle Ortiz’s training spans the globe with stints at Russia’s Moscow Art Theatre School and opera singing in Germany. The actress now resides in L.A., where she’s done both commercial work as well as television with roles in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Life in Pieces. Ortiz brings with her a diverse range of impressions to the MADtv cast, ranging from Aubrey Plaza to Tina from Bob’s Burgers. (Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.)
Stand-up comedy fans will likely recognize talented comedian Amir K from his stint on last year’s season of Last Comic Standing. The Iranian-American performer started his career in showbiz working as a production assistant on The Big Bang Theory, but has since branched out into projects as diverse as Argo and voiceover parts in video games like Far Cry 4. In addition to acting, the comedian has performed his storytelling style of stand-up on Gotham Comedy Live and Comedy Central’s Adam Devine’s House Party. (Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.)
With a long history of providing the training for future stars of SNL and MADtv, L.A. improv company, The Groundlings’ newest success story is Lyric Lewis. Lewis caught the attention of the comedy industry after her performances at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival and last year had a small role in Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The New Orleans-born Lewis has made the comedy rounds with stints on Drunk History and Logo’s Gay Skit Happens. Landing a spot on MADtv isn’t all she has to be excited about this year either, as she’s slated to lend her voice to the animated series SuperMansion, starring Bryan Cranston. (Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.)
It’s easy to see why MADtv was eager to snap up the L.A.-based Craig, who’s been slowly building a fan base around her celebrity impressions. Her Ariana Grande impression could fool even the most savvy of TMZ paparazzi. The actress, comic, dancer and yes, occasional rapper cut her comedy teeth with Todrick Hall’s performance troupe, which led to a spot on the MTV docu-series Todrick. If landing the MADtv gig wasn’t sweet enough, Craig can also boast about her other summer sketch comedy gig, First Impressions with Dana Carvey. (Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.)
Like many of her new MADtv cast members, Chelsea Davison has a background in improv as well as stand-up, and turned heads with her performance at the Just For Laughs Festival. Born in Cleveland, Davison has called both coasts home, and now resides in California where she’s a regular at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater. Besides performing, she’s currently a writer with Comedy Central’s popular @Midnight and has worked with comedy superwoman Amy Poehler on Glamour Magazine’s These Girls. (Follow her on Twitter.)
With a résumé that includes both contributions to The Howard Stern Show and Disney’s Wander Over Yonder, impressionist and actor Piotr Michael’s talent isn’t limited to one audience. The voice actor’s carved out strong impressions of Simon Cowell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charlie Sheen, and lent his vocal talents to video games like Doom and Warcraft. Besides providing voiceover work, Michael is the man behind the comedy impression podcast The Mixed Nut Show. And it’s probably a safe bet that MADtv fans will get a chance to see Michael showcase his Donald Trump impression throughout the show’s season. (Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.)