A Must For Comedy Fans
4.5 out of 5 stars
I’ll start this one out with a given. I love stand-up comedy. No, seriously, I love it. I listen to it almost every night as I fall asleep. I was introduced to it at a pretty early age and it’s just grown from there. I started out listening to Bill Cosby on the “clean” side and George Carlin on the not-as-safe-for-TV side. I was lucky enough to see both of them before fate stepped in (one way for Cosby and death for Carlin). So, when I found out that they were releasing a history of one of the most influential clubs out there – I was all over it.
This book is a must-read for true fans of comedy. It really sets the stage for the comedy scenes “coming out” and is just one of those really great history lessons that they won’t show you on a TV documentary.
The interviews featured within were also a fun addition to the book. It’s awesome to hear from so many comedy greats about this historic club.
As with all books that Johnny Heller touches – he does this book such a great service by narrating it. He always adds a little something to a book and The Improv definitely benefitted from his narration.
Overall, a must read for comedy fans – giving you a history lesson and a glimpse into what made this comedy club and the time that it started so great.
The Improv: An Oral History Of The Comedy Club That Revolutionized Stand-Up by Budd Friedman, Tripp Whetsell
Narrator: Johnny Heller
Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
Published by Tantor Audio on September 29th 2017
Genres: History, Non-Fiction
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In 1963, 30-year-old Friedman - who had recently quit his job as a Boston advertising executive and returned to his hometown of New York to become a theatrical producer - opened a coffee house for Broadway performers called the Improvisation. His goal? Simply to make a living, and if all went according to plan, to also make enough professional contacts to be able to mount his first Broadway show within a year's time.
Later shortened to the Improv, its first West 44th Street location in a seedy section of Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen had previously been a Vietnamese restaurant. Initially attracting the likes of Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Albert Finney, Christopher Plummer, and Jason Robards, as well as a couple of then-unknowns named Dustin Hoffman and Bette Midler, Friedman's new venture was an instant hit. But while it drew near-capacity crowds almost from day one, it wasn't until comedians began dropping by to try out new material that the Improv truly hit its stride, not only becoming the first venue ever to present live stand-up in a continuous format, but in the process reinventing the art form and creating the template for all other comedy clubs that followed.
I received this book for free. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.