Friday, February 18, 2011

While Deltalina Languishes In Obscurity, Flo Gets Front-Page WSJ Publicity

Long-time SoSG readers recall that our community is split right down the middle on Flo and Deltalina, which led to deep psychological analysis as well as a knock-down, drag-out cage match that spanned multiple rounds and threatened an irreparable schism through the course of highly complicated and incredibly insane team competitions (Full details here.)

And not only did Team Deltalina eventually prevail; in March 2010, Deltalina herself gave Sons of Steve Garvey a shout-out of appreciation.

Well, a year later, it seems the Flo-tide (or should I say, the "Flo-tilla"?) has turned. Stephanie "Flo" Courtney just got front-page pub on today's Wall Street Journal (no link):

[...] Across the country in West Hollywood, seven members of the Groundlings improv troupe dash onto a bare, tiny stage, and Stephanie Courtney announces to the 90 or so people in the audience: "Welcome, everybody! It's Wednesday! That means it's time for the Crazy Uncle Joe Show!"

Ms. Courtney looks vaguely familiar, but only vaguely. Without the maraschino red lipstick, bumped-up hair, head-band and clinic-white apron, she doesn't bear an especially close resemblance to "Flo," the insanely perky hostess she plays in ads for Progressive Insurance.

Mr. Holmes and Ms. Courtney live a double life in show business. The pop-culture icons they portray are known to more people than many movie stars. But in their chosen fields, as actors or stand-up comics, they are still struggling for recognition, roles, and a living wage.

The commercials are steady work and steady money—six-figure money, in fact. Mr. Holmes says the year before he booked the E*Trade gig, he went on the road to do 60 colleges over five months, "sleeping in different hotels in Iowa, driving through the snow" of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. That whole tour, he says, "paid roughly one third of what I've made from E*Trade in a year." [...]

At the Groundlings show, Ms. Courtney is wearing a black v-neck Journey T-shirt over snug jeans. Her hair is completely normal—flat and wavy with a glint of red. Over 90 minutes she'll pretend to be an elderly British lady building with an erector set, a cross-dressing Army commander and an unconscious 1980s prom date who awakens singing the Thomas Dolby song "She Blinded Me With Science." During one improv, a phone jingles in the audience, and without breaking character she tilts her head and says to her stage partner, "Does your neighbor play the xylophone?"

Ms. Courtney had been auditioning in Los Angeles for years, after leaving stand-up comedy in New York. She became a main-company member at Groundlings and has won bit parts in TV shows such as "Men of a Certain Age" and movies including "The Heartbreak Kid."

"I always thought I would have supporting parts, then get bigger supporting parts, and get a character actor's career going," she says. She was auditioning for commercials to pay the bills and having little luck, booking "under one a year," she recalls. But she nailed the Progressive audition ("They were like, 'Can you be a little more quirky?' and I was, 'Oh sure'"). Since 2007 she's taped 53 spots as Flo. A Facebook fan page for Flo has 2.4 million "likes."

"My Flo thing is the first time I've been able to play the same character again and again. I've never had a regular role in something," she says. Now, as Ms. Courtney hustles to land a role during the current TV-pilot audition season, casting directors know who she is.

Congratulations, Flo, on some well-deserved props.

Your move, Deltalina.

(For another "revealing" shot of Flo (moderately risque), you can click here. Also, I have to admit I've seen a lot of Deltalina and her finger-wagging video of late; I'm starting to warm to her a bit. But I'm still in the Flo camp.)


spank said...

I always liked Flo and after seeing that risque pic I LOVE FLO!!!

But I doubt it's real.

Greg Hao said...

God, just looking at that picture makes me throw up a little.

Eric Karros said...

Flo-tilla. I like that.

I haven't yet clicked on any links to see this picture being commented on...

Steve Sax said...

Click away, EK!

w.k.burt said...

"I always liked Flo"
REALLY ? Flo is a
BIG COUNTRY ! And hope

what_difference_does_it_make said...

I <3 Flo!

spank said...

@ Greg Hao-No Photo

You must be a fan of that horse they call Deltalina.

Greg Hao said...

lol@spank. Hey, at least you can take the horse on a visit to the glue factory and get something useful at the end of the day.

spank said...

@ Warren


don't you?

spank said...

@ Greg Hao-No Photo

Trust me,holmes. I'll get something useful out of Flo and the night will turn to day doing so!

spank said...

I'm out! Any questions? Call my lawyer.