About the Show

Dec. 17, 2019





The Creative Team Includes Previous Showcase Participants Stephen Guarino as Director, Tess Paras as Associate Director and Tien Tran as Head Writer

The Writers’ Room, Made Up of 11 Showcase Alumni, Will Create Original Sketches for This Year’s Participants

Performances to Take Place Jan. 14-Jan. 17 at the

El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles

(Left to right): Stephen Guarino, Tess Paras, Tien Tran

(Top - Left to right): Wilder Smith, Mike Millan, Sofia Gonzalez, Jimmy Fowlie, Bill Posley, Lilan Bowden, Frank Garcia-Hejl

(Bottom- Left to right): Mike Lane, Shukri Abdi, Peter Kim, E.R. Fightmaster


LOS ANGELES – Dec. 17, 2019 – CBS today announced the director, associate director, head writer and the writers’ room for the 2020 SHOWCASE. Previously, the annual show was named the CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE.

Stephen Guarino (“I’m Dying Up Here”) returns to direct, Tess Paras (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) serves as associate director and Tien Tran (“Easy”) serves as head writer. All three, including the writers’ room of 11, are previous participants of the CBS showcase.

SHOWCASE is one of my favorite events and one I look forward to year after year,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, CBS EVP Entertainment Diversity, Inclusion and Communications. “I’m excited for the entertainment community to see another group of talented actors perform original sketches under the direction of Stephen, Tess and Tien, who are all tremendous actors and immensely creative. For a second year, we are pleased to also bring back the writers room staffed with former alumni allowing them to share their experiences and guide the new participants through the showcase process.”

Recognized by many as the industry leader in actor showcases designed to highlight diverse talent, SHOWCASE has developed into a hybrid comedy show with Broadway-worthy live performances and original, creative writing. The show is attended by senior-level CBS Entertainment executives, showrunners and casting directors from series on CBS, as well as other networks and talent agents/managers from across the entertainment industry.

The 2020 SHOWCASE will be held in Los Angeles at the El Portal Theatre. The schedule is as follows: Tuesday, Jan. 14, Wednesday, Jan. 15, Thursday, Jan. 16 and Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 PM, PT, with afternoon shows on Wednesday, Jan. 15 and Thursday, Jan. 16 at 1:00 PM, PT.

Stephen Guarino (“I’m Dying Up Here”) is an Emmy Award-nominated actor, writer and director. He was a performer and writer in the 2011 SHOWCASE. His credits include “2 Broke Girls” and “Superior Donuts,” on the Network, “Happy Endings” (ABC), “The Goldbergs” (ABC), “Dr. Ken” (ABC), “The Big Gay Sketch Show” (LOGO) and his Daytime Emmy-nominated performance in “EastSiders” (Netflix). He has been nominated three times for an Indie Series Award, with one win, and won the Outfest Best Actor award for his role in the international gay festival hit “BearCity.” As a comedian, he has toured the nation doing improv, sketch and stand-up, performing at Upright Citizens Brigade, the Groundlings, Second City and RSVP/Atlantis cruises. Also, he has written and produced for Funny or Die, including a hit musical drag parody of “Downton Abbey” starring the cast of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” He has directed at the Groundlings, Funny or Die, Upright Citizens Brigade and the 2019 and 2018 CBS SHOWCASE. Guarino is repped by APA and 3 Arts.

Tess Paras (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) is a comedian, actress and writer. Paras was a performer and writer in the 2014 SHOWCASE and was the assistant director for the 2019 SHOWCASE. Her television credits include a series regular role on “Just Add Magic: New Protectors” (Amazon) and recurring roles on “Just Add Magic” (Amazon), “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW) “The Good Wife,” on the Network, “Grimm,” “Girl Meets World,” “White Collar,” “Mulaney,” “Weeds” and “Wilfred.” Her film credits include “The Blackout.” As a sketch writer, Paras is known for political and musical satire, including the viral videos “Trumping Makeup Tutorial” (Fusion Digital Comedy), “Typecast” and “What If Catcalls Were Cheeseburgers?” Recently, she wrote, directed and starred in “The Patients,” a short film inspired by events in her own life. It premiered at the 2019 L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival, screened at Bend Film Festival, and received an award from the Asian American Psychological Association for its advocacy of mental health awareness. She has been profiled by “Good Morning America,” Ms. magazine and Glamour magazine for her activism in the AAPI arts community. Tess performs with Quick and Funny Musicals! and the Asian AF Show at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) Theatre in Los Angeles. Paras is repped by Gersh and Haven Entertainment.

Tien Tran, a performer and writer in the 2019 SHOWCASE, is an L.A.-based comedian and writer. As a stand-up, she was recently named a New Face of Comedy at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. She was also an actor and writer for the Second City’s 106th Mainstage revue, “Dream Freaks Fall from Space,” and the Second City’s 41st etc. revue, “Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno.” Her credits include “Easy” (Netflix), “Hot Date” (PopTV), “A Legendary Christmas” (NBC), “Sherman’s Showcase” (IFC), and “Southside” (Comedy Central). She was also a writer on “Work in Progress” (SHOWTIME). You can see her performing stand-up all over Los Angeles, or you can hear her as one of the co-hosts of Crooked Media’s Hysteria podcast. She is repped by CAA and Mosaic.

Alumni of the SHOWCASE include Emmy Award winners Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), Tiffany Haddish (“Girls Trip”), Diona Reasonover (NCIS), Justin Hires (MACGYVER), Geoffrey Arend (“Madam Secretary”), Nico Santos (“Superstore” and “Crazy Rich Asians”), Nicole Byer (“Nailed It!”) and Ego Nwodim (“Saturday Night Live”), among numerous others.

Following are bios for the 11 writers for the 2020 SHOWCASE:

Name: Bill Posley

Hometown: Springfield, Mass.

Education: High School

Training: Improv Olympic

Credits: Television: Writer on THE NEIGHBORHOOD (CBS)

Interesting Fact: I am a veteran.

Showcase Year: 2017 writer/performer

Name: E.R. Fightmaster

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Education: BA, women and gender studies, DePaul University (Chicago)

Training: The Second City (Chicago)

Credits: Television: “Shrill” (Hulu), “Work in Progress” (SHOWTIME)

Film: “Yew Boys,” “Pathetic Woman,” “Asner”

Stage: “The Second City e.t.c.” (Chicago), “Boom Chicago” (Amsterdam), “Maude Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade L.A.)

Interesting Fact: In a band called TWIN. Loves cats.

Showcase Year: 2019 writer/performer

Name: Frank Garcia-Hejl

Hometown: Ennis, Texas

Education: BA, sociology and English, University of North Texas

Training: Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (N.Y. and L.A.), Four Day Weekend Theater (Fort Worth, Texas)

Credits: Television: “Adam Ruins Everything” (TruTV), “First Impressions” (Actor/USA) “Difficult People” (Actor/Hulu), “The Characters” (Actor/Netflix)

Film: “Scare Package” (Writer & Actor/Shudder)

Stage: “This American Life Live” (Actor/Brooklyn Academy of Music), “SQUADRON” (Writer/Actor/Upright Citizens Brigade Theater L.A.), “Harold Night” (Performer/Upright Citizens Brigade Theater NYC), “Maude Night” (Writer/Actor/Upright Citizens Brigade Theater L.A)

Digital: “Más Mejor (Actor/Writer/Director/ Producer/ Broadway Video), Night Train w Wyatt Cenac (Actor/ SeeSo)

Interesting Fact: Recently worked with Kevin Bacon and can now say he’s one degree separated.

Showcase Year: 2018 writer/performer

Name: Jimmy Fowlie

Hometown: Bedford, Mass.

Education: BFA, acting, University of Southern California

Training: The Groundlings (Los Angeles)

Credits: Television: “The Other Two” (Comedy Central) “#VanLife” (NBC), “BizAardvark” (Disney) “2 Broke Girls” (CBS), “The Comeback” (HBO)

Television Writing: “Watch Dog” (Pilot, MTV2)

Theater: “So Long Boulder City” (off broadway), “Sunday Company” (Groundlings),

Digital Writing: Maker Studios (staff writer), “Go-Go Boy Interrupted” (series, creator)

Interesting Fact: Wrote Emma Stone’s one woman show from “La La Land” as a joke and it became a well-received theater piece that went to New York.

Showcase Year: 2014 writer/performer

Name: Lilan Bowden

Hometown: Castro Valley, Calif.

Education: BA, theater, University of California, Irvine

Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (Los Angeles), Playhouse West (Los Angeles), Archibald Studio (Los Angeles)

Credits: Television: “Andi Mack” (Disney Channel), “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FX), “Future Man” (Hulu), “LOVE” (Netflix), “Parks and Recreation” (NBC), “Drunk History” (Comedy Central), “Impulse” (YouTube Premium), “Lifeline” (YouTube Premium)

Film: “I Am Watching You” (Lifetime), “Zombie Apocalypse” (SyFy)

Stage: “Maude Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade L.A.), “Harold Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade L.A.), “Lilan and Wilder’s Best Day Ever” (Upright Citizens Brigade L.A.)

Digital: “The Vomit Solution to Thirsty Men” (Funny or Die), “Lilan and Wilder Test Tube” (Funny or Die)

Interesting Fact: Last year, I lived in an apartment with FOUR 17-year-old cats.

Showcase Year: 2013 writer/performer

Name: Mike Lane

Hometown: Danville, Calif.

Education: BA, international relations, history, University of California, Davis

Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (New York), Lesly Kahn & Co.

Credits: Television: MOM (CBS), “Adam Ruins Everything” (TruTV), “American Princess” (Lifetime)

Stage: “Boat” (Upright Citizens Brigade, JFL), “Squadron” (Upright Citizens Brigade)

Digital: “Beast to Beauty” (Comedy Central Digital), “90’s Sleepover” (Above Average)

Interesting Fact: Was a park ranger in New York City. Yes, no one took me seriously, and yes, I did find a garbage bag full of decapitated chickens. Good guess!

Showcase Year: 2015 writer/performer

Name: Mike Millan

Hometown: Bay Shore, N.Y.

Education: BFA, musical theater, the Hartt School

Training: The Upright Citizens Brigade (New York)

Credits: Television: “Sunnyside” (NBC), “High Maintenance” (HBO)

Stage: “Escape to Margaritaville” (Broadway)

Interesting Fact: I was once stung 21 times…and now I can talk to bees!

Showcase Year: 2019 writer/performer

Name: Peter Kim

Hometown: Flushing, Queens, N.Y.

Education: BA, psychology, University of Michigan

Training: Second City (Chicago), The Annoyance (Chicago), iO (Chicago)

Credits: Television: “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO), NCIS (CBS), “Shrink” (NBC), “Chicago Justice” (NBC), “Electric Dreams” (Amazon), “Queers!” (NYTVF)

Film: “Yes Day” (Netflix), “Spies in Disguise” (20th Century Fox), “Canal Street” (Smith Global Media)

Stage: “A Red Line Runs Through It” (Second City), “Maude Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade), “Oddball Comedy Fest,” “SF Sketchfest,” “Portland Queer Comedy Fest”

Digital: “Code Switched,” “Garbage,” “Gap Year”

Writer: Weekly Report Card (staff writer), 2018 CBS Showcase (staff writer)

Interesting Fact: I love money.

Showcase Year: 2018 writer/performer, 2019 staff writer


Name: Shukri R. Abdi

Hometown: Potomac, Md.

Education: BA, Latin-American studies and Spanish, Wellesley College

Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (Los Angeles), iO West.

Credits: Television: “United We Fall” (actor, ABC), “Black Card Revoked” (Head Writer, BET)

Stage: “Maude Night” (Actor/Upright Citizens Brigade L.A), “Just for Laughs Comedy Festival 2019” (actor/writer)

Digital: “Adam Ruins Everything” (actor, truTV/CollegeHumor); “Where in the Eff is Sarah Cincinnati?” (writer, series, CollegeHumor).

Interesting Fact: I was the 2019 commencement speaker at my high school, Holton-Arms, in Bethesda, Md.

Showcase Year: 2019 writer/performer

Name: Sofia Gonzalez

Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.

Education: BA, political science with honors, University of California Santa Cruz

Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (Los Angeles), Robert D’Avanzo Studio (Los Angeles), The Groundlings (Los Angeles)

Credits: Television: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Actor/The CW), “Modern Family” (Actor/ABC), “Barely Famous” (Writer/VH1), “Awesomeness TV” (Writer/YouTube Red)

Digital: “Más Mejor” (Broadway Video Latinx Channel)

Interesting Fact: My husband, David, and I named our dog Rick after Dan Harmon’s cartoon “Rick & Morty.”

Showcase Year: 2014 writer/performer

Name: Wilder Smith

Hometown: Fresno, Calif.

Education: B.A., drama, University of California, Irvine

Training: Upright Citizen’s Brigade (Los Angeles), Archibald Studio

Credits: Television: “Andi Mack” (Disney Channel), “Truck’d Up” (Pilot)

Film: “Under the Western Sun” (Indie Film)

Stage: “Lilan and Wilder’s Best Day Ever” (Upright Citizen’s Brigade), “Tournament of Nerds” (Upright Citizens Brigade)

Digital: “Gay of Thrones” (Funny or Die)

Interesting Fact: I was once trapped in a New York City bathroom, and a construction worker had to free me with a crowbar.

Showcase Year: 2016 writer

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Press Contacts:

Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i



Christine Park




Tiffany Smith-Anoa'i

Christine Park