See Christopher Titus, Live at the Improv!
Friday, May 3 • 9:45pm
Pittsburgh Improv Comedy Club Presents Christopher Titus
- One night only — Christopher Titus!
- Join us at the Improv for what promises to be an amazing performance.
- $ 25.00 / Age 21 And Up
- Two item minimum purchase required
- ALL SALES ARE FINAL
- General Admission is first come, first seated.
- For Group Sales, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Get Your Tickets>>
Some restrictions may apply on the Christopher Titus performance. See the Pittsburgh Improv Comedy Club for details.
In the beginning….there was Budd.
For over half a century, the Improvisation Comedy Clubs have remained the premiere stages for live comedy in the United States. Over the decades, the talent who has played center stage represents the Who’s Who of American Comedy, including Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, Freddie Prinze, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Dane Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler, Jeff Dunham, and Dave Chappelle.
Today, the Improv stage continues to be the most important live venue for new comedians. But, its start in 1963 was anything but legendary.
The Improvisation was founded in New York City by Broadway producer Budd Friedman. Budd hoped for a place where Broadway performers could meet after their shows, an intimate setting where performers could simply eat, drink (coffee, at first, as the Improvisation did not have a liquor license) and, most importantly, sing. The Improvisation quickly gained attention as the gathering spot where young Broadway artists would hold sing-alongs into the wee hours. Budd has a very vivid memory of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli singing, accompanied at the piano by Peter Allen. (Google them if you aren’t sure who these legends are!)
Our iconic brick wall started in the NY club as well – out of necessity. When Budd ripped the red wall panels and mirrors off the wall left by the previous tenants (A Vietnamese Restaurant. In the 1960’s. Not hard to see why it didn’t make it!), he discovered this great red brick wall. Since he knew nothing about dry walling (and couldn’t afford it, even if he did), he simply left the brick in place, which soon gave the club its signature.
One year later, the Improvisation’s first comedian, Dave Astor, appeared on stage to try new material. It worked– and others quickly followed. Soon, comedians began to dominate the rotation, as singers were phased-out of the nightly line-up. The Improvisation became the place for live comedy. In fact, the only nightly stage for live comedy. Little known Dave Astor made Budd the Impresario of comedy virtually overnight. The legendary club was just beginning.
Future giants of American comedy all vied for stage time at the New York club. In an effort to be noticed by Budd, nothing was off-limits to young comedians desperately hoping to be selected.
Lily Tomlin hijacked a parked limousine and had the stunned driver circle the block so she could make the proper entrance for her meeting with Budd.
Jay Leno drove weekly between Boston (he is a graduate of Emerson College. His major: Speech therapy) and New York, hoping that someone would notice him hanging around the Improv. Or sleeping in the Improv parking lot. Eventually Budd did—impressed that Leno would log so many miles and countless hours in the hope of getting his first minutes on stage.
Andy Kaufman interviewed with Budd and never broke out of his “Latka” accent. It wasn’t until Kaufman performed on stage that Budd realized he had been duped!
A remarkable list of talent was building; the debut of 16 year-old Freddie Prinz one night, legendary Milton Berle the next. In one month, audiences could catch the greats and soon-to-be-greats– George Burns, Robert Klein, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Richard Lewis, and Rodney Dangerfield, who was the Improv’s part-time emcee for four years.
Many future stars worked at the Improv— even if not on stage. There were door hosts Danny Aiello (“Godfather II”, “Moonstruck”), Keenan Ivory Wayans (“In Living Color”, “Scary Movie”), and Joe Piscopo (“Saturday Night Live”). Waitresses included Karen Black (“Easy Rider”, “Five Easy Pieces”) and Elaine Boosler. A guy named Barry Manilow would play piano. And, it was not unusual to find Dustin Hoffman at the piano when the regular Improv pianists were on break!
Contrary to popular belief, Bette Midler was never a waitress at The Improv. But she regularly performed on stage, and Budd became her manager, helping to book her first appearance on “The Tonight Show.” Next to Johnny Carson, The Improv stage was arguably the most important stage in all of show business. For a young comedian, success at the Improv meant everything.
A New Era of Expansion
A new century began with a new generation of explosive comedy talent. Jamie Foxx, Dave Chappelle, Jeff Dunham, Dane Cook, David Spade, Pablo Francisco, Brian Regan, Sarah Silverman, Daniel Tosh, Gabriel Iglesias, Jo Koy, Sebastian Maniscalco, Todd Glass, Aisha Tyler, Bobby Lee, Anjelah Johnson, and Jamie Kennedy, to name a few, and once again helped make the Improv the best place for top comedy.
The Improv was expanding once again. In 2002, Budd partnered with Al Copeland to create six new clubs: in Irvine, San Jose, Brea, Ontario, Pittsburgh, and the re-launch of the historic Improv on Melrose Avenue.
In recent years, the Improv opened in Chicago, Denver, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Arlington, Louisville, Baltimore and Orlando.
New clubs are now being planned, both domestically and internationally, ensuring that the Improv’s promise remains true:to deliver the best comedy talent, quality food and service in the most celebrated—and largest—comedy club chain in the world!
Improv on the Big and Little Screens
The Improv has long been as much a part of Hollywood as any other establishment. We’ve been the site of hundreds of tapings for both film and television, not to mention countless comedy recordings. The critically acclaimed “Funny People” was the latest movie to be filmed at the Hollywood Improv, but other movies such as “Man on the Moon,” “The Aristocrats”, Robert Townsend’s ”Hollywood Shuffle,” and “The Goodbye Girl” also had major scenes shot at the Improv.
For television – other than the 400+ hours of ‘An Evening at the Improv’– we’ve been featured on Last Comic Standing (which has taped in multiple Improv locations) and dozens of comedy specials on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central. Other shows include A&E’s “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels,” E!’s ”Denise Richards: It’s Complicated”, the NBC series “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” as well as our own HBO’s “An All-star Toast to the Improv” and “The Improv 40th Anniversary Special” on NBC.