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HomeEntertainmentBudd Friedman lifeless: Improv comedy membership founder was 90

Budd Friedman lifeless: Improv comedy membership founder was 90

Budd Friedman, who earned the nickname the godfather of comedy by founding and increasing probably the most distinguished comedy membership franchises within the United States, has died. He was 90.

Friedman’s spouse, Alix, instructed the Hollywood Reporter that the Improv comedy membership founder died Saturday of coronary heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the place he lived in Westwood. Erin von Schonfeldt, lead expertise booker on the Hollywood Improv, confirmed his demise to The Times.

“The comedy world lost a giant today,” the Improv crew mentioned in a press release.

“He was not a stand-up comedian or sit-com star or movie legend. But he gave birth to a generation of artists who defined American comedy and culture for decades. … For almost 60 years, through stable and turbulent times, the Improv stages provided the platform for thousands of artists to speak their truth—and hopefully catch the watchful eye of Budd in the process.”

In 1963, Friedman based the Improv’s flagship location — a late-night coffeehouse and restaurant within the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York with a tiny showroom that attracted the theater crowd. It’s evolution into one of many hottest comedy golf equipment on the scene “was all an accident,” in keeping with Friedman, who initially billed the venue as a coffeehouse that served meals as a result of he “couldn’t afford a liquor license.”

Though Friedman offered the unique membership in 1979, the Improv now boasts greater than 20 areas throughout the nation, together with phases in Brea, Irvine, Oxnard, San Jose and Hollywood.

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As the Improv’s stand-up footprint expanded through the years, Friedman and enterprise accomplice Mark Lonow helped launch the careers of Jerry Seinfeld, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, Andy Kaufman, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Eddie Murphy, Tim Allen, Jay Leno, Dave Chappelle, Jamie Foxx, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, Chris Rock and different family comedy names.

Amid the rise of cable tv within the Eighties and ‘90s, Friedman elevated his influence by hosting “An Evening at the Improv,” a stand-up comedy series that featured the likes of Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Silverman and Drew Carey.

“Club owners may complain that there’s an excessive amount of stand-up on TV,” Friedman instructed The Times in 1994, “but they’re usually the ones that don’t have a show. Television has been great for the Improv, generating money and goodwill. And I don’t think it’s affected the club crowds poorly, because for all the comedy on TV, the club is still a very different experience.”

When information of his demise surfaced over the weekend, quite a few comedians — together with Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Kevin Nealon and Loni Love — paid tribute to Friedman on social media.

“Budd Friedman. Can’t thank this man enough for what he gave to all of us,” Sandler tweeted Sunday. “A comedy home. All the stage time. All the tips. All the encouragement. A place for comedians to hang out and talk about nothing but comedy. … No place like the improv. No one like this man. Great to so many. Thinking of Bud and his family today with so much love and appreciation.”

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“Budd Friedman is the reason many comics you see today are working,” Love tweeted Saturday. “He put money in our pockets and provided a space for us to audition and be seen for our stand up…thank you so much Budd for believing in the power of comedy.. you changed the world now rest.”

Von Schonfeldt of the Hollywood Improv mentioned the membership hosted a celebration for Friedman’s ninetieth birthday in June. Even in previous age and having survived a stroke, Friedman visited the membership regularly, sat at his sales space within the again, sipped Champagne and was all the time giving the workers notes about enhancing the membership.

Friedman is survived by his spouse, Alix, daughters Zoe and Beth and stepsons Dax and Ross.

“He was super sharp, didn’t miss a beat,” Von Schonfeldt mentioned. Above all, his ardour for the enterprise made him an iconic determine within the comedy world.

“Not only did he build the Improv, but he created the comedy club,” she mentioned. “And so to leave that legacy of laughter without having stepped on anybody to do it is kind of unheard of.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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