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Must read: Despite strike, laughs continue onstage for 'SNL' and '30 Rock'

NEW YORK - With their regular programs halted by a writers' strike, cast members of NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' and '30 Rock' planned to stage a pair of live performances at a Manhattan improv theater.

The shows, held at the 150-seat Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre co-founded by SNL's Amy Poehler, will benefit the behind-the-scenes staffers who have lost work because of the shutdowns caused by the two-week strike by the Writers Guild of America.

'The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater is a second home to a lot of these performers and writers,' Poehler said in a statement. 'We are doing this to raise spirits, raise awareness and raise money for our hard-working production crews who will be having a hard holiday season if this strike continues.'

Saturday night's sold-out 11:30 p.m. performance, billed on the Brigade's Web site as 'Saturday Night Live - On Strike!' was reportedly to include skits, musical guest Yo La Tengo and 'Superbad' star Michael Cera as guest host.

A performance of '30 Rock - On Strike!' at 8 p.m. Monday is to include the show's full cast performing a complete episode, according to a theater employee. The show's stars include Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski and Alec Baldwin.

That show is also mostly sold out, except for a handful of tickets to be made available at the door.

An NBC publicist declined to comment.

Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents the East Coast scriptwriters who have been out on strike, called the project a wonderful idea.

'We're thrilled that they're doing this,' she said. 'It's a great cause.'

Late-night talk shows and several sitcoms shut down production and went to reruns after the strike began Nov. 5.

Among the hardest hit in the strike are the legions of workers who do not belong to the writers' union but have been put out of work anyway by the studio shutdowns.

The New York Post reported Saturday that the list of the unemployed included most of the off-camera staff of Saturday Night Live.