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Hollywood Improv

Location

Event Location

8162 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046

For Map Directions: Click Orange Icon
Map of Hollywood Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave

For almost half a century, the Improvisation Comedy Clubs have remained the premiere stages for live comedy in the United States. Over the decades, the talent who has played center stage represents the Who's Who of American Comedy, including Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, Freddie Prinz, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Dane Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler, Jeff Dunham, and Dave Chappelle.

Today, the Improv stage continues to be the most important live venue for new comedians. But, its start in 1963 was anything but legendary.

The Improvisation was founded in New York City by Broadway producer Budd Friedman. Budd hoped for a place where Broadway performers could meet after their shows, an intimate setting where performers could simply eat, drink (coffee, at first, as the Improvisation did not have a liquor license) and, most importantly, sing. The Improvisation quickly gained attention as the gathering spot where young Broadway artists would hold sing-alongs into the wee hours. Budd has a very vivid memory of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli singing, accompanied at the piano by Peter Allen. (Google them if you aren't sure who these legends are!)

Our iconic brick wall started in the NY club as well out of necessity. When Budd ripped the red wall panels and mirrors off the wall left by the previous tenants (A Vietnamese Restaurant. In the 1960's. Not hard to see why it didn't make it!), he discovered this great red brick wall. Since he knew nothing about dry walling (and couldn't afford it, even if he did), he simply left the brick in place, which soon gave the club its signature.

One year later, the Improvisation's first comedian, Dave Astor, appeared on stage to try new material. It worked-- and others quickly followed. Soon, comedians began to dominate the rotation, as singers were phased-out of the nightly line-up. The Improvisation became the place for live comedy. In fact, the only nightly stage for live comedy. Little known Dave Astor made Budd the Impresario of comedy virtually overnight. The legendary club was just beginning.

Future giants of American comedy all vied for stage time at the New York club. In an effort to be noticed by Budd, nothing was off-limits to young comedians desperately hoping to be selected.

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