Budd Friedman has let go of owning The Improv.
Levity Entertainment Group, which already runs six of the Improv comedy clubs in addition to producing stand-up specials and comedy series, as well as managing comedy clients, has bought the legendary Improv franchise brand from Friedman and Improv co-owner Mark Lonow.
“We are very happy,” Lonow told The Comic’s Comic today. “Both myself and Budd will be continuing on as consultants and working alongside LEG to make the Improv name more important in the comedy world.”
Friedman opened the original Improvisation club in 1963 in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. After going Hollywood, Budd sold partial ownerships and franchises, allowing the comedy club chain to expand nationwide. The brand also lasted several years on TV in the 1980s showcasing stand-ups on A&E’s An Evening At The Improv. You can hear Lonow tell me a lot more about those early years into today on Episode #155 of my Last Things First podcast.
The Improv chain currently operates out of 20 locations in the United States: Hollywood, Irvine, Ontario, Brea and San Jose, Calif; Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach, Fla.; Chicago; Cleveland; Denver; Kansas City; Pittsburgh; Tempe; Tahoe; Addison, Arlington and Houston, Texas; and Washington, D.C.
Levity Live clubs operate in two locations: West Nyack, NY; and Oxnard, Calif.
They’re expected to change into Improvs. Levity also plans to expand the Improv brand once more with new venues and ventures.
“There are few comedy brands with such an authentic and rich history,” Levity founder Robert Hartmann said in a statement. “We are excited to build on its legacy and evolve the live experience for new audiences.”