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The Improv

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The Improv

Improv on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles
Irvine Improv

The Improv is a comedy club franchise. Originally, it was a single venue founded in 1963 by Budd Friedman and located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City on West 44th near the SE corner of 9th Ave.[1] A second location was opened in 1974 at 8162 Melrose Avenue in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, California (the old location of the Ash Grove). In 1979 Mark Lonow became a general partner and with Budd Friedman ran the Melrose club and oversaw the expansion of the single room as it became a successful chain. In 1982 the LA Improv became the original site for the A&E Network television series An Evening at the Improv, runnig from 1982 until 1996, and was produced by Larry O'Daly, created by O'Daly and Barbara Hosie-O'Daly, with Budd Friedman as a warm-up host. Other locations have opened since then, such as in Tampa, Florida,[2] Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[2] Atlantic City,[3] and Louisville, Kentucky.[2] Levity Entertainment Group is the largest shareholder of The Improv comedy clubs.[4]

The Improv was the place to see Richard Pryor, Robert Klein, Steve Landesberg, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Jay Leno, and others when they were just starting out. Dustin Hoffman played piano there. On any given night in the later 1970s, one could see Gilbert Gottfried, Joe Piscopo, Bruce Mahler, Mark Schiff, Larry David, and many others. Often famous comedians would walk in to "work out" before appearances on The Tonight Show. It was not unusual to find celebrities in the audience.

Nearly every big name in comedy has played The Improv, including Chevy Chase, Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, Jeff Dunham, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Hicks, Carol Leifer, David Letterman, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, Steve Martin, Dennis Miller, Larry Miller, Liza Minnelli, Freddie Prinze, Paul Reiser, Joan Rivers, Joe Rogan, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ron White.[5]

New and upcoming performers have performed there as well. Comedy Central's Dave Attell frequents Improv locations in Tampa and Hollywood. Comics Lewis Black, Mike Birbiglia, Louis CK and Jimmy Fallon have performed at the Improv in Louisville, Kentucky.[2]

Comedian Eddie Murphy was a regular at The Comic Strip in New York City, but in California performed at the Improv when he was only 15 years old, Jeremy Ruder at 18, and Jim Carrey at 19. Karen Black, Debra Winger and Barry Manilow among others worked there as waitresses, hosts or musicians before becoming famous.[6]


  • Locations 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


The following is a list of current Improv locations:[2]

The Following is a list of past Improv locations:[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Improv Comedy Clubs". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Improv Comedy Clubs". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Charleston, Rita. "Budd Friedman knows success", Northeast Times, 30 October 2003.
  4. ^ "Levity Entertainment Offers Groundbreaking Marketing Services for Comedy Clients". Stage Time. July 15, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Improv Comedy Clubs". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "Improv Comedy Clubs". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 

External links

  • Official website
  • The Improv Atlanta
  • Improv in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Interview with Chris Albrecht
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