Mitzi Shore, the founder and owner of iconic Los Angeles club The Comedy Store has died at age 87. The Comedy Store, which is closed tonight in her honor, shared the sad news:
It is with great sadness and very heavy hearts that we report the passing of Mitzi Shore. Mitzi was an extraordinary woman and leader who identified, cultivated and celebrated comedy’s best performers. She helped change the face of comedy and leaves behind an indelible mark and legacy in the entertainment industry and stand-up community. We will all miss her dearly
Mitzi and her ex-husband, Sammy, founded The Comedy Store in 1972 and it was the training ground and home for such greats as Garry Shandling, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Roseanne Barr, Aresnio Hall, and more, and pretty much anyone who was anyone did sets there. From The Los Angeles Times:
For at least a dozen years, she was "all-powerful, during a remarkably fertile time for stand-up comedy — the 1970s and early '80s — when many of today's comedy stars showed up in L.A. to go onstage at the only place that mattered," Paul Brownfield, who covered comedy for The Times, wrote in 2003.
The first comedian to officially share her life was her husband, Sammy Shore, who founded the Comedy Store in 1972 with fellow comic Rudy DeLuca. When the Shores divorced two years later, Sammy gave her the club as a way of lowering his alimony payments.
A mother of four, Mitzi Shore in essence gained a fifth child — the Comedy Store that she had named. When she took over, it was more of a variety room than a comedy club, but she transformed it into a three-room showcase for stand-up.
"Comics felt very belittled in those days — they always had to work with a singer," Shore recalled in 1993 in The Times. "I wanted it to be all comics. No jugglers and magicians. I wanted to give them respectability."
Her timing was excellent. In 1972, Johnny Carson had moved "The Tonight Show" from New York to Los Angeles, helping to make L.A. the place for young comedians who strove to appear on his show, and the Comedy Store was "the place to be seen," Brownfield wrote in 2003.
Mitzi's son, Pauly Shore, wrote "Mom/Mitzi passed Early in the morning at 4.42 am she was 87 years old my heart lays heavy."
Rest in peace, Mitzi. Read more tributes and remembrances from comedians including Marc Maron, Eddie Griffin, Patton Oswalt, and Kathy Griffin, below.