The Comedy Store

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The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store.jpg
The Comedy Store in 2006
Former namesCiro's
Address8433 West Sunset Boulevard
LocationWest Hollywood, California
Coordinates34°05′42″N 118°22′26″W / 34.09510°N 118.37384°W / 34.09510; -118.37384Coordinates: 34°05′42″N 118°22′26″W / 34.09510°N 118.37384°W / 34.09510; -118.37384
OwnerPeter H. Shore, Trustee of the Mitzi S. Shore Trust
TypeComedy club
CapacityMain room: 450
Construction
OpenedApril 1972 (1972-04)
Renovated1976
Website
thecomedystore.com
The Comedy Store

The Comedy Store is an American comedy club opened in April 1972. It is located in West Hollywood, California, at 8433 Sunset Boulevard on the Sunset Strip. An associated club is located in La Jolla, San Diego, California.

History[edit]

The Comedy Store was opened in April 1972 by comedians Sammy Shore (1927–2019), and Rudy De Luca. The building was formerly the home of Club Seville (1935),[1] later, Ciro's (1940–1957), a popular Hollywood nightclub owned by William Wilkerson, and later Ciro's Le Disc,[1] a rock and roll venue,[2] where The Byrds were discovered in 1964.

When the venue reopened as The Comedy Store in 1972, it included a 99-seat theatre. As a result of a divorce settlement, Sammy Shore's ex-wife Mitzi Shore began operating the club in 1973, and she was able to buy the building in 1976. She immediately renovated and expanded the club to include a 450-seat main room.[3]

In 1974, The Comedy Store hosted the wedding reception of newlyweds Liza Minnelli and Jack Haley, Jr.. The Comedy Club signage was covered, for the evening, by signs reading "Ciro's", denoting the venue's prior identity. The event was attended by many dozens of Hollywood glitterati, including Elizabeth Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr., Cher, Bob Fosse, Johnny Carson, Goldie Hawn, Cesar Romero, Priscilla Presley and other stars, past and present. The soiree was so grand that Sunset Boulevard was temporarily blocked by police to allow Hollywood royalty to arrive in their limos unmolested by photographers and reporters.

Locations[edit]

The original Comedy Store on Sunset at Ciro's had been joined by the Comedy Store Westwood, at 1621 Westwood Blvd.,[4] the Comedy Store La Jolla, at 916 Pearl St.,[5] Comedy Store Playhouse,[6] on Las Palmas, Comedy Store at the Sheraton Universal Hotel,[7] in Universal City,[8] and the Comedy Store Las Vegas at the Dunes Hotel.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Job action[edit]

Beginning in 1979, The Comedy Store served for many years as the host location for the annual HBO Young Comedians specials.

"Tension between the club owners stems from a 1979 strike of Los Angeles comedians against the Comedy Store’s “no-pay policy.” Until that time, neither Shore nor Friedman paid comedians a salary. The theory was that comedians should almost be paying the owners for the exposure the clubs provided. When the comedians’ strike began, The Improv (opened in 1974 at 8162 Melrose Avenue) was closed for fire-damage repairs. Therefore, the strike focused on Shore, not Friedman."[7]

Also in 1979, stand-up comedians formed a short-lived labor union and demanded to be paid for their appearances at The Comedy Store. For six weeks (beginning in March),[15] several famous comedians staged a protest in front of the club, while others crossed the picket line.[15] The comedians involved formed a union called Comedians for Compensation and fought for pay where they had received none before. They eventually picketed in front of the club when their demands were not met. Jay Leno and David Letterman were among those on the picket line while Garry Shandling and Yakov Smirnoff crossed the line.[16]

The job action was not legally a strike as the comedians were classified as "independent contractors" and were not under contract with the club.

Mitzi Shore argued[17] that the club was and had always been a showcase and training ground for young comedians and was not about profits. She alleged that comedians came to the club and could work on their material in front of casting agents and other talent scouts who would possibly hire them as professionals if they were good enough.

The comedians at the club became unhappy when the club was expanded several times and it was perceived that Shore's profits were quite substantial. Shore also paid the rest of her staff, including waitresses and bartenders.

After the strike, some comedians were no longer allowed to perform at the club, including Steve Lubetkin, who committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the Continental Hyatt House next door. His suicide note included the line: "My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at The Comedy Store."[18] Lubetkin hoped that his suicide would resolve the labor dispute. He also cited Shore as the reason he no longer had a job.

The union ceased to exist in 1980, although from the time of the job action onward, comedians in Los Angeles were paid for their shows. This included The Comedy Store and The Improv.

Notable alumni[edit]

Signed photographs of past performers at The Comedy Store

The history of the young comedians coming to Los Angeles in the 1970s and performing at the club is told in the book I'm Dying Up Here by William Knoedelseder.

Docu-series[edit]

A docu-series based on The Comedy Store debuted on Showtime in October 2020.[27]

Each episode is an hour long and breaks down a different time period throughout the existence of the Comedy Store. The director, Mike Binder goes on a podcast with a different comedian to set the tone and help provide the narrative each episode.

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byOriginal air date [28]U.S. viewers
(millions)
1"Saw You Last Night on the Tonight Show"Mike BinderOctober 4, 2020 (2020-10-04)N/A
2"The Comedy Strike"Mike BinderOctober 11, 2020 (2020-10-11)N/A
3"The Wild Bunch"Mike BinderOctober 18, 2020 (2020-10-18)N/A
4"Joe Rogan Returns"Mike BinderOctober 25, 2020 (2020-10-25)N/A
5"The Birth of a Bit"Mike BinderNovember 1, 2020 (2020-11-01)N/A

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Early Views of Hollywood (1920 +) : Historical Photos of Early Hollywood". Water and Power Associates. Retrieved 24 November 2020. The Club Seville opened New Year’s Eve 1935 and featured a crystal dance floor with subsurface fish, fountains and colored lights in its Crystal Marine Room. In 1940, the building got a face-lift and became known as Ciro’s Nightclub (1940 – 1957).
  2. ^ Ogden, Tom (1999). "The Comedy Store". The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings. Alpha Books. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-02-863659-7. OCLC 42714505.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lord, Rosemary (2003). Hollywood Then and Now. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 140–141. ISBN 1-59223-104-7.
  4. ^ "La Bruschetta – Westwood". Urban Dining Guide. Retrieved 24 November 2020. In business since 1984, La Bruschetta has won a loyal neighborhood following and has long been one of the more serious—and relaxed—places to dine close to Westwood Village.
  5. ^ "The Comedy Store, La Jolla". KPBS.
  6. ^ Shirley, Don (13 April 1989). "Impresarios Pump Life Into Mid-Size Theaters; 'Carnage' Heads for Edinburgh and New York". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 November 2020. ...Comedy Store Playhouse, at the site of the old Hollywood Playhouse on Las Palmas south of Sunset Boulevard. The building was sold last fall to Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore, who is renovating it and hopes to begin booking comedy plays and one-person shows as soon as construction is completed.
  7. ^ a b Dunham, Elisabeth (21 May 1987). "Laughing on the Outside : Rival Comedy Clubs Get Serious in Quest for Patrons". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 November 2020. Up the Ventura Freeway in Universal City, the Comedy Store at the Sheraton Universal Hotel is definitely more glamorous. The room underwent months of remodeling that transformed it from a dark cocktail lounge to the Valley counterpart of owner Mitzi Shore’s Sunset Strip club....Tension between the club owners stems from a 1979 strike of Los Angeles comedians against the Comedy Store’s “no-pay policy.” Until that time, neither Shore nor Friedman paid comedians a salary. The theory was that comedians should almost be paying the owners for the exposure the clubs provided. When the comedians’ strike began, the Improv was closed for fire-damage repairs. Therefore, the strike focused on Shore, not Friedman.
  8. ^ Wyma, Mike (11 January 1991). "Cantina Hoping Comedians Can Shtick It Out". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 November 2020. Nevertheless, the Valley hasn’t been particularly hospitable to comedy. The Improv and the Comedy Store have closed branches here in recent years, and a host of nightclubs and restaurants seem to drop comedy nights as soon as they start them.
  9. ^ "The Queen of Comedy: Mitzi Shore". The Comedy Store. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  10. ^ "History". The Comedy Store. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  11. ^ news services; staff reports (April 11, 2018). "Mitzi Shore, owner of L.A.'s influential Comedy Store stand-up club, dies at 87". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2020. Legal documents filed by her family said she had Parkinson’s disease and other neurological problems....Ms. Shore assumed control of the venue, which she soon expanded and built into a comedy empire with area locations in Los Angeles, San Diego and eventually at the former Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.
  12. ^ Crumpler, David (2012-11-05). "Louie Anderson makes people laugh, and people make Louie Anderson laugh". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 24 November 2020. Every comedian talks about what appearing on Johnny Carson did for their career. Was there a literally next-day kind of difference in your career? Yep. I got hired the next day at The Comedy Store at The Dunes Hotel in Vegas. The next day NBC called about a holding contract with the network. The offers just kept coming in. But soon I was the opening act for The Commodores in Vegas. There's no platform like 'The Tonight Show' that can do that today.
  13. ^ Wharton, David (1992-09-20). "Send in the Clowns : The Comedy Store keeps the laughs coming as it celebrates its 20th birthday with some of the comedians who got their start there". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 24 November 2020. Below is a Los Angeles Times story, published Sept. 20, 1992, about the 20th anniversary of the Comedy Store and how many influential comedians hold the club dear to their hearts. ... Over the years, Comedy Store branches have opened in La Jolla, Westwood, the San Fernando Valley and at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Only La Jolla and a newly reopened Westwood branch remain. Shore has also purchased the Hollywood Playhouse, a space that is given over to one-man shows.
  14. ^ Plastik, David. "Sam Kinison". VINTAGE MUSIC IMAGES. Photo Shelter. Retrieved 24 November 2020. Las Vegas Comedy Store at the Dunes Hotel
  15. ^ a b Zoglin, Richard (2008-02-04). "The First Comedy Strike". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  16. ^ "Jokers Wild". New York Post. April 30, 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  17. ^ "THE STRIKE OF '79". The Comedy Store. Retrieved 24 November 2020. The eventual deal was hammered out during the third week of the strike, but Mitzi needed time to cool off after the Letterman episode. Finally, she agreed to the deal in early June, allowing the comics to be classified as independent contractors and paying them a flat rate per performance.
  18. ^ Knoedelseder, William (2009). I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy's Golden Era. New York, NY: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1586488961.
  19. ^ https://www.chortle.co.uk/punching-ups/2019/01/30/42179/chevy_chase_made_a_surprise_appearance_at_a_comedy_club..._and_it_was_bizarre
  20. ^ https://www.thesunsetstrip.com/cheech-chong-return-their-sunset-strip-roots/
  21. ^ Zoller Seitz, Matt (30 January 2015). ""Louis C.K. Live at the Comedy Store" Is Loose With Flashes of Brilliance". Vulture. New York.
  22. ^ Martin, Brittany (April 11, 2018). "What Comedy Store Owner Mitzi Shore Meant to Yakov Smirnoff, Chris D'Elia, and Comedy in L.A." Los Angeles Magazine.
  23. ^ https://www.eventbrite.com/e/comedy-chaos-joe-rogan-tom-segura-bert-kreischer-sam-tripoli-more-tickets-80800118329
  24. ^ https://comedyhype.com/happened-martin-lawrence-officially-back-stage-performed-comedy-store/
  25. ^ The Comedy Store (23 February 2019). "Thank you Brody for sharing your Comedy and positive energy with us for so many years. You made late nights so much fun, pushing boundaries, being different, and never doing the same show twice. Joke writing, crowd work, drums, baseball. We love you forever Brody". Twitter.
  26. ^ Rabin, Nathan (16 March 2012). "John Witherspoon". The A.V. Club.
  27. ^ "Showtime(R) Documentary Films Announces Docu-Series About the Legendary Comedy Store". The Futon Critic. April 22, 2019.
  28. ^ "The Comedy Store – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved October 5, 2020.

External links[edit]