It was founded in New York City by Broadway producer Budd Friedman in 1963.
“I’ve been in the business for 50 years,” said Friedman, of Los Angeles. “I was in advertising and when I was about 29, I said, ‘I’ve got to try to do what I really want to do. … I had no money.”
Friedman, now 80, said he opened a coffee house next to a theater called the Village Green, in Greenwich Village in New York, and it eventually turned into a comedy club.
It took about 10 years for the club to make money, he said, and eventually it became successful enough for Friedman to move to Los Angeles to live and open another club.
Atlanta marks the 24th city where The Improv comedy club brings in audiences countrywide, to eat, drink and be entertained by local and traveling comedians.
“This is the only comedy club in the world with sushi on the menu, except for in Tokyo,” Friedman said.
Buckhead’s club is also unique in that all six restaurants in the East Andrews Entertainment district offer menu items to The Improv.
To launch its opening in Atlanta, Friedman brought in four special acts to perform throughout October, including Owen Benjamin, of Los Angeles.
Benjamin, who plays the supporting role on the new TBS sitcom “Sullivan and Son,” performed last weekend. He has entertained in every The Improv theater but two, he said, and describes his humor as “relatable.”
“It’s the kind of stuff I think everyone relates to and is still honest to my life. I want people to feel better about their lives as they’re leaving,” Benjamin said. “I want them to leave feeling that a lot of the things in their life that makes them feel crazy aren’t really that crazy.”
Benjamin learned to play piano when he was a boy and usually ends all of his shows by playing some tunes requested by the audience.
To find his talent, Friedman said he looks for two things.
“It’s originality and wit. Saying [the F-word] is not funny,” he said. “We had an audition about four weeks ago, and I saw some wonderful local acts.”
Friedman said he is excited about bringing comedians to the Buckhead The Improv but also thrilled about taking comedians from Atlanta and bringing them to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Calif., and other cities with The Improv locations.