If there is a cathedral for the relatively young art of stand-up, if there is a La Scala for comedy or a Louvre of Comedy history, the black, bunker-like building on The Sunset Strip with the chasing lights and the classic marquee is it.
The Comedy Store, a club that helped shape the modern comedy landscape, held its 40th anniversary gala on Saturday April 21st . Garry Shandling, Bill Burr, Dom Irrera, Louie Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Jeff Ross, Natasha Leggero, Tony Clifton and Jon Caparulo were among the dozens of comics who showed up to celebrate the club and pay homage to legendary club owner Mitzi Shore, with David letterman, Robin Williams and a few others sending in their video regards.
The story of the club itself is a Hollywood tale for the ages. Being opened by Sammy Shore and Rudy Deluca in April of 1972, just a month before Johnny Carson would shift the comedy universe from New York to Los Angeles by moving The Tonight Show to Burbank, propelling the only comedy club in LA at the time into the focal point of any aspiring comedian's dreams. Sammy would soon leave the business in the hands of his wife Mitzi while he was on tour. He would return to find the entire place re-decorated, with unknown, young, comedians trying out their trade on the stage and Mitzi would soon after serve him with divorce papers making her the sole owner of what she would famously refer to as an "Artist's Colony" rather than a business.
Mitzi's insistence on freedom of expression and that the talent be allowed to experiment and "work out" in a free an environment paid out. Agents and casting directors flocked to "The Store" to catch lineups that would include Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Richard Lewis, Sandra Bernhard , Jimmy Walker and Roseanne Barr. To this day, the top names in comedy continuously return to the club to "work out" in a place that has been described as "A boxing gym for comedy" and you can pretty much always expect late nights at The Comedy Store to devolve into a witches' sabbath of experimental comedy and weirdness.
There are literally hundreds of insane anecdotes and legends about the Comedy Store, here are just a few, some of which are of questionable veracity, but damn fun:
- Before it was the Comedy Store it was "Ciro's" a mob owned nightclub where the biggest acts in Hollywood performed, including the West Coast premiere of Martin and Lewis.
The Comedy Store is located at 8433 Sunset Boulevard and is open every day of the year including Christmas and New Year.
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