Improv comedy theater founder Budd Friedman dead at 90
Broadway producer and Improv theater founder Budd Friedman died Saturday due to heart failure at the age of 90 at his Los Angeles home.
The Hollywood improv announced his death in a tweet.
“The comedy world lost a giant today,” read the statement.
“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’s legacy will be carried on by the 22 improv locations, including the New York flagship at West 44th Street and Ninth Avenue which was founded in 1963.
Entertainers Jay Leno, Robert Klein, Bette Midler, Richard Pryor and Andy Kaufman also performed at Friedman’s New York comedy club.
The success of that club lead to the founding of several other clubs all over the US.
“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.”
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 famous Improv. In many ways he was a lifesaver. I loved him and his family. RIP pal.”
Friedman is survived by his wife, three children and five grandchildren.