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Short Synopsis
The Improv gives listeners an exclusive look at what really happened on stage and off-mike at one of America's most venerable institutions.

Full Synopsis
In 1963, thirty-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.

“The Improv was a cauldron of talent. Whetsell writes about it wonderfully and with respect for its importance to comedy.” ---Robert Klein

“They used to say that if you made it New York you could make it anywhere. Maybe so, but if you didn’t make it at the Improv, it was time to pack your bags and move to ‘anywhere.’” ---Richard Lewis

“This book is a great walk down memory lane for me. All hail the Improv and all the laugh-filled times and wonderful nights that happened in front of those brick walls.” ---Bill Maher

“The Improv played a vital part in my early stand-up days as it did in the careers of the dazzling array of stars, eccentrics, and colorful characters whose stories adorn this bright and greatly entertaining book. Get at least two copies, in case you lose one.” ---Dick Cavett

"And Johnny Heller is the right narrator to bring the humorous backstory of an iconic comedy club to life." ---AudioFile

The Improv

An Oral History of the Comedy Club that Revolutionized Stand-Up

Author Budd Friedman, Tripp Whetsell

Narrated by Johnny Heller

Publication date Sep 29, 2017

Running time 11 hrs

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