December 2, 2022
Budd Friedman Death

Budd Friedman, the founder of the iconic Improv Comedy Club franchise and a Broadway producer, has died. He was 90.

Friedman passed away on Saturday, according to an Instagram tribute shared by The Hollywood Improv, the Improv Comedy Club’s Los Angeles venue. There was no mention of a cause of death.

Friedman first opened the Improv in Manhattan in 1963, followed by a second location on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood in 1974. He was Bette Midler’s first manager and aided the careers of Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Larry David, and Andy Kaufman.

The Improv in New York saw its first on-stage comedian, Dave Astor, in 1964. It was originally created as a space for Broadway actors to congregate for food, drinks, and music. The set’s success prompted more comedians to follow suit, and the club became a dedicated venue for nightly comedy shows.

Budd’s comedy career began after he opened a Manhattan location for Broadway performers to hang out after shows. Liza Minnelli sang, Barry Manilow played the piano, and Rodney Dangerfield once hosted. Danny Aiello was once hired as a bouncer.

Friedman’s legacy may be seen within the red brick walls of the Improv comedy club franchise, which grew to 22 sites in 12 states before Friedman and co-partner Mark Lonow sold the firm to Levity Entertainment Group in 2018. Friedman opened the first branch in New York in 1963 at West 44th Street and Ninth Avenue, which is still the chain’s flagship site.

The Improv in New York saw its first on-stage comedian, Dave Astor, in 1964. It was originally created as a space for Broadway actors to congregate for food, drinks, and music. The set’s success prompted more comedians to follow suit, and the club became a dedicated venue for nightly comedy shows.

Friedman, who was born on June 6, 1932, in Connecticut, moved to New York in 1941, where his show business ambitions took off. Friedman went on to have minor acting roles in films such as 1983’s “Star 80” and 2009’s “Funny People,” and even starred as himself in Milos Forman’s 1999 film “Man on the Moon.”

Friedman is survived by his wife, Alix, as well as his children, Zoe, Dax, Beth, and Ross, as well as his grandchildren, Noah, Sophia, Jacob, Bronte, and Gibson.

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