Play dating game improv
FRIEDMAN: My wife says my ego is developed enough, but I really burst with pride. I remember when he came into the club, and he was cute and adorable. FRIEDMAN: I knew that, in 50 years, I’d have 22 clubs around the country and that we’d do 400 hours of An Evening at the Improv. He came back the next night with a few other comics who had come to see him. How did the look for the club come about, with the iconic brick wall?We watched him one night and I said, “Eh, nothing.” My wife said, “Go talk to him.” I said, “What do you mean, talk to him? Did you have any idea that the brick wall would become as famous as the club itself? I was building the club in 1962, at the height of the Vietnam War, and it was a Vietnamese restaurant, so that wasn’t going to last too long.I just stripped the wood paneling off, and there was the brick, so we cleaned up the brick. Has this felt like a long 50 years, or has this 50 years flown by? When I watched the EPIX show, it brought back some wonderful memories. I’m 81 years old, and I still have a smile on my face. Were there any memories that you had forgotten, that watching this documentary really brought back for you? When Judd Apatow was being interviewed, he reminded me that he met Adam Sandler at The Improv, when Judd was working as the doorman.Of course, that’s largely due to my wife of 33 years. And then, the Wayans’ brothers reminded me that I wasn’t a very good MC.
What they did best was teach him to work hard for his dreams, and not forget how to laugh at life and himself. He became an officer in the Air Force, is an accomplished aviator, and is a veteran having served in Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.She came to the grand re-opening with her friend, and I was dating her friend, so that didn’t work out to well. With all of the crazy things that went on at The Improv, over the years, are there specific nights or performances that most stand out for you? When I opened in California, Rodney Dangerfield came. We also did a 20 anniversary there for Showtime, and Billy Crystal was the host of the party. In 50 more years, how would you like The Improv to be remembered? I don’t expect to be around, mind you, in 50 more years, but it’s possible that the club might still be going strong.She kept coming in, and finally her friend and I split up, and I asked her out. I was looking for somebody to come in and put in a few bucks and become a partner, and so Mark did. He helped me a lot, and we’ve done all this franchising around the country. He was then a star, but he used to work the club when he was an unknown. And Liza Minnelli, who started singing at The Improv in New York when she was 15, sang after Rodney. We had a party in the dining room and the bar, before we went in. The only thing was that I would never, ever believe that they would become the major stars that they became. I knew he’d be a star, but as the host to replace Johnny Carson? Jerry Seinfeld was talent, funny and a nice guy, but did I think he’d have a show that I’d still watch, almost every night? When I grew up, there was Bob Hope, Jack Benny and George Burns, but they were already stars, by the time I became aware of them. I remember when Robin Williams was doing Mork & Mindy, I was standing in the doorway and there was a lot of paparazzi hanging around, in those days. I’m sure the comedy will be different, and I wish I could say something prophetic now that you could put in a time capsule.The special features Judd Apatow, Lewis Black, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Kathy Griffin, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman and the Wayans brothers. One of the things that’s so wonderful about this is that it’s the history of The Improv being told by the comics, rather than by me or my partner (Mark Lonow). The Improv revolutionized the comedy business, created life-long friendships for people, and allowed comedic stars a place to really hone their craft. And he told the stage manager, “I’ve gotta leave tomorrow. I have a great deal of pride when I watch these guys. I used to manage Jay Leno, back in New York, and look what he’s accomplished. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t expand it for that long. After about a year, we got a liquor license and a comic walked in. His name was David Naster, and he was playing the Blue Angel, here in New York, which was the chic club in town.During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, The Improv’s founder Budd Friedman talked about how this EPIX documentary came about, how proud he is of the impact The Improv had on the comedy business, how he never could have envisioned what The Improv would become, how it evolved from a place for singers to a place for comedians, the memories that he has from the 50 years they’ve been in business, the performances that most stand out for him, and how he would like The Improv to be remembered in 50 more years. How proud are you, of the hand you had in all of that? He’s so charming that he won me over, and the next thing I knew, we were booking him in Vegas. When you thought you would just open up a coffee shop with food, could you ever have envisioned what The Improv would become, and what it would still be today? He was a comic’s comic, and he got up and he liked it. I would rather hear a joke, over and over, than the same song, over and over.