A Guide to the Rising Comedy Stars of ‘The Characters,’ Netflix’s New Sketch Series

One of Netflix’s primary fanbases, beginning with the sneaky genius of BoJack Horseman and continuing through Maria Bamford’s highly anticipated Lady Dynamite later this spring, has been cult comedy fans. Which makes perfect sense: who’s more likely to shell out money for a streaming service than a bunch of entertainment-obsessed nerds? (That’s also the idea behind NBC’s fledgling Seeso.)

This Friday, Netflix upholds that tradition with The Characters, its first sketch show that’s not a de facto Mr. Show revival. Unlike the comedy supergroup behind With Bob and David, the eight-person cast of The Characters, each of whom will write and star in their own episode, is deliberately less-established — though by no means unknown. Here’s your guide to the up-and-coming performers who came together to make the show, including alumni of Broad City, Saturday Night Live, and Orange Is the New Black.

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Lauren Lapkus

Though Lapkus has a steady stream of side gigs doing some straight-up acting for the likes of Orange Is the New Black and Jurassic World, the world-class improviser is known to comedy fans as, in Jezebel writer Madeleine Davies’ words, a “podcast all-star.” She’s done plenty of character work on Comedy Bang Bang, but her own show tells you all you need to know about her wildly prolific sensibility. Called With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus, the podcast has a different premise every week — with Lapkus playing the fictional guest and her actual guest playing the fictional host. It makes perfect sense when you listen to it.