The Comedy Store

The Comedy Store is a comedy club
Comedy club
A comedy club is a venue, typically a nightclub, bar, or restaurant where people watch or listen to performances, including stand-up comedians, improvisational comedians, impersonators, magicians, ventriloquists and other comedy acts...

 located in West Hollywood, California
West Hollywood, California
West Hollywood, a city of Los Angeles County, California, was incorporated on November 29, 1984, with a population of 34,399 at the 2010 census. 41% of the city's population is made up of gay men according to a 2002 demographic analysis by Sara Kocher Consulting for the City of West Hollywood...

, at 8433 Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Boulevard is a street in the western part of Los Angeles County, California, that stretches from Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Coast Highway at the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Palisades...

 on the Sunset Strip
Sunset Strip
The Sunset Strip is the name given to the mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard that passes through West Hollywood, California. It extends from West Hollywood's eastern border with Hollywood at Harper Avenue, to its western border with Beverly Hills at Sierra Drive...

. It has a sister comedy club in La Jolla, San Diego, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...



The Comedy Store was opened in April 1972 by comedians Sammy Shore and Rudy DeLuca. The building was formerly the home of Ciro's
Ciro's was a nightclub in West Hollywood, California, at 8433 Sunset Boulevard, on the Sunset Strip, opened in January 1940, by entrepreneur William Wilkerson. Herman Hover took over management of Ciro's in 1942 until it closed its doors in 1957...

, a hugely popular Hollywood nightclub owned by William Wilkerson
William Wilkerson
William Richard Wilkerson was the founder of the Hollywood Reporter, Flamingo Hotel and owner of such nightclubs as Ciro's. He was also responsible for discovering actress Lana Turner across the street from Hollywood High School.-Early life:Born in Nashville, Tennessee on September 29, 1890...

, and later a rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 venue, where The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

 were discovered in 1964.

When the venue reopened as The Comedy Store in 1972, it included a 99-seat theatre, where Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

 was one of the first comics to perform. As a result of a divorce settlement, Sammy Shore's ex-wife Mitzi Shore
Mitzi Shore
Mitzi Shore founded the Los Angeles comedy club, The Comedy Store. Mitzi Shore took over operation of The Comedy Store in 1973.Her former husband, Sammy Shore, is also a comedian. Pauly Shore is their son.-References:...

 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.

In 2005, Sammy Shore's son Pauly Shore
Pauly Shore
Paul Montgomery "Pauly" Shore is an American comedian and actor who starred in several comedy films in the 1990s and hosted a video show on MTV in the late 1980s and early 1990s...

 starred in the TBS reality show Minding the Store
Minding the Store
Minding the Store is a 2005 reality TV show starring Pauly Shore. The show was based around Shore trying to revitalize his acting career and run the family business, The Comedy Store....

. The series followed Shore as he pretended to take control of The Comedy Store and attempted to "revitalize" it. In truth, the failed series resulted in the ousting of Shore from the board of directors and the installation of his brother, Peter, as CEO of The Comedy Store. Since then, the Comedy Store has seen a gradual increase in attendance and is currently experiencing a period of stability and success.

Job Action

Beginning in 1979, The Comedy Store served for many years as the host location for the annual HBO
Home Box Office
HBO, short for Home Box Office, is an American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner. , HBO's programming reaches 28.2 million subscribers in the United States, making it the second largest premium network in America . In addition to its U.S...

 Young Comedians
specials. Also that year, stand-up
Stand-up comedy
Stand-up comedy is a comedic art form. Usually, a comedian performs in front of a live audience, speaking directly to them. Their performances are sometimes filmed for later release via DVD, the internet, and television...

 comedians formed a short-lived labor union and demanded to be paid for their appearances at the Comedy Store.

For five weeks, several famous comedians staged a protest in front of the club, while others crossed the picket line. 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
Jay Leno
James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

 and David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 were amongst those on the picket line.

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 that the club was and had always been a showcase and training ground for young comedians and wasn't 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. Several of the young
comedians who had moved to Los Angeles to make it big were so poor they could not afford 3 meals a day or even housing. Jay Leno briefly lived in his car upon first arriving in LA and performing at the club.

After the strike some comedians were no longer allowed to perform at the club, including Steve Lubetkin, who committed suicide in front of the building by jumping off the roof of the Continental Hyatt House
Continental Hyatt House
The Andaz West Hollywood is a 257-room Hyatt hotel located at 8401 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California .The hotel opened in 1963 as the Gene Autry Hotel. Sold in 1966, it was renamed the Continental Hyatt House. In 1976 it became the Hyatt on Sunset until February 1997 when the hotel was...

 next door. His suicide note included the line: "My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at the Comedy Store." 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 as of 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
The 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. A second location was opened in 1974 at 8162 Melrose Avenue in the Fairfax District...



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    Arsenio Hall is an American actor, comedian, and former talk show host. He is best known for his talk show The Arsenio Hall Show, which ran between 1989 and 1994, and his roles in the films Coming to America and Harlem Nights.Hall is also known for his appearance as Alan Thicke's sidekick on the...

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    Richard Lewis (comedian)
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    James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

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    David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

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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.

Unsolved Mysteries

The Comedy Store was featured in an episode of the supernatural documentary, Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries is an American television program, hosted by Robert Stack, from 1987 until 2002, and later by Dennis Farina, starting in 2008...

, which told reports of the Comedy Store being haunted. Comedians Blake Clark
Blake Clark
Blake Clark is an American actor, voice artist, comedian, and veteran of the Vietnam War, having served as a Captain with the 101st Airborne Division....

and Joey Gaynor told their stories of their encounters with the paranormal.

External links

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