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Budd Friedman, Iconic Broadway Producer And “Improv” Comedy Club Founder, Dies At 90

Legendary Broadway producer, Budd Friedman, who changed the world of comedy by creating the first comedy club “Improv” in the 60s, is no more! The owner of the iconic theatre died Saturday (Nov. 12) at the age of 90 at his Los Angeles home. Read on to learn more about the cause of death.

Magician Who Changed The World Of Comedy…

Budd Friedman, the iconic Broadway producer and “Improv” theatre founder, bid goodbye to the world on Saturday (Nov. 12) at the age of 90. The man, remembered for changing the world of comedy by creating the first comedy club in 1963 died at his Los Angeles home from heart failure.

His death was announced by the Hollywood Improv in a tweet: “The comedy world lost a giant today. In 1963 he changed the world of comedy by creating the first comedy club for the masses to come together in laughter. In 1963 he changed the world. He went global. He was a pioneer. He was a gentleman. He was a luminary.”

Friedman is credited for launching the career of some of the biggest names in comedy, including Andy Kaufman, Lily Tomlin, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Billy Crytal and many more! The ex-comedian, however, credited Dave Astor for becoming this big in the world of comedy.

“That’s how I became a comedy genius, ladies and gentlemen, because of Dave Astor,” Friedman once said. “I didn’t have the idea of opening [a venue] for comics. I got tired of singers singing the same songs all the time, but I could listen to a comic do the same jokes over and over because there was always a nuance I could pick up on.”

Friedman’s Legacy Lives On…

Who knew the 60s would see such a massive change in terms of comedy? What was not even considered a full-fledged profession back then, was made a real deal, and it all become possible because of Budd Friedman, who gave comedians a platform to showcase their talent.

In 1963, Budd along with his future wife, Silver Saundors, founded “Improv” theatre, which was located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of New York City. It became an instant hit, and a place where Broadway performers could unwind after shows with an open mic inviting impromptu musical performances.

Gradually, “Improv” became a hub for comedians, who started trying new material. Not only this, but talent scouts from “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and other New York-based television shows, started booking the venue for new acts. By the 1970s, the “Improv” became a complete stand-up venue. By the late, 70s, the place expanded into a chain of venues.

Budd’s death has come as a D-Day for the world of comedy. Comic Richard Lewis paid tribute to the ex-comedian on Twitter. “Budd Friedman passed tonight. In 1971, my father, a hero to me died young,” tweeted the comic. “I was lost and found by this man who was a veritable kingmaker for many young comedians at his famed Improv. In many ways, he was a lifesaver. I loved him and his family. RIP pal.”

Several other comedians came forward to pay tribute to the huge loss. Whitney Cummings wrote, “RIP Budd Friedman, one of the great champions of comedy and comedians. Just a monumental, incredible man. I will never stop performing at the Improv Comedy Clubs.”

The man lived a great life and paid a pivotal role in the lives of many struggling comedians, who have now become big names in Hollywood. The legendary comic may be gone, but his legacy will be carried on by the 22 improv locations, including the original New York flagship.

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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