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Budd Friedman- Improv Comedy Club Founder Dies at 90

The American actor and comedian Budd Friedman, who founded the Improvisation Comedy Club, better known as The Improv, died Saturday of heart failure. He was 90 years old. 

Budd Friedman Death

On Saturday evening, the Hollywood Improv mentioned, “The comedy world lost a giant today.” They recalled how Friedman created the first comedy club and changed the world which greatly influenced the masses who joined his universe of laughter. Improv also dubbed Friedman as a “pioneer,” “gentleman,” and “luminary.”

Budd Friedman

Before Budd Friedman and his co-partner, Mark Lonow sold the company to Levity Entertainment Group in 2018, he had established his comic club around 22 locations across 12 states. In fact, Friedman’s legacy lay in the red brick walls, the signature interior, of the Improv comedy club franchise. 

His original New York venue is still considered the flagship location for the chain and it witnessed the first on-stage comedian, Dave Astor, back in 1964. It was a tremendous hit and the triumph led the team to follow more. Eventually, the club became the dedicated spot for night comedy shows. 

In a previous confrontation, Friedman said owing to his pal Dave Astor, “I became a comedy genius because of Dave Astor. I (initially) had no thought about starting a comic venture. I easily used to get tired of the singers singing the same songs, but I could hear comics telling jokes repeatedly as there was always a hook I could pick up on.”

The Improv’s LA outlet reeled in relatively more aspiring talents including Judd Apatow as well as Kevin Nealon and Leslie Moonves. These were only a few individuals whom Friedman had helped in achieving their true potential. Comic Richard Lewis and actor Rob Schneider were among the voices that offered passionate reflections on Friedman’s sincere warmth to see each other rising up to what they actually deserved. He also opened Improv clubs at different locations including a Casino in Temecula, California, Pechanga Resort, Fantasy Spring Resort, and Casino in Indo, California. 

Budd Friedman Death

Lewis penned an emotional statement and said, “Budd Friedman died tonight. He was a hero to me and he passed young. I was lost and (eventually) found by this man who was literally a kingmaker for (numerous) young comedians at his famed Improv.”

Per what Lewis wrote, it has been crystal clear that Friedman has often played the role of a lifesaver on many occasions and particularly in the lives of ‘many’ individuals. The selfless saga has helped usher the new talents onto a successful trajectory and the list begins with Larry David, Dick Cavett, David Steinberg, Lily Tomlin, Chris Rock, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, David Brenner, Steve Landsberg, Jimmy Fallon, and Jerry Seinfeld.         

Several other artists like Robert Klein, Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, and Bette Midler also performed at Friedman’s New York comedy club, where they entertained crowds. They used to put extra effort so that they may get Friedman’s attention, something which Leno succeeded in after multiple attempts. He often used to travel between Boston and New York, hoping that Friedman would one day notice him.

“You know, the person who invented baseball owns the entire credit,” Leno told CBS News in 2018. “There are a number of coaches and players along the way, but who matters the most is the guy who came up with the idea. I wouldn’t have been standing here if it wasn’t for him.”

In the conversation, Leno stressed on the matter that he was someone who offered him a big break. 

Budd Friedman

Although Friedman was born in Connecticut, he was brought up in New York, where his entertainment business aspirations took the lead. Throughout his career, Friedman owns certain acting credits in the movies like STAR 80(1983), and Funny People (2009), and he even led the ensemble cast in Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon (1999). Besides, he has executive produced a couple of shows including An Evening at the Improv as well as National Lampoon’s Funny Money. 

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During the Korean War, he served in the US Army, distinctly in the infantry. Right on his first day of action, Friedman was injured by an enemy grenade while his unit was assaulting Pork Chop Hill. There he was honored with the Combat Infantryman Badge and a Purple Heart. Friedman received a Native Son Award in 1980 and a Golden Goody Award in 2013. 

Friedmans is survived by his beloved wife Alix and their children Dax, Zor, Beth, and Ross as well as his grandchildren, Noah, Jacob, Gibson, Bronte, and Sophia. 

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