We first told you about the grand opening of Atlanta’s Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theater, and Atlanta Tastemaker Magazine was there to witness the first live comedy show of its 24th US location in the heart of Buckhead and the experience can only be described as –legendary!
The history of Improv dates back almost half a century ago in New York, as founder Budd Friedman purchased a Vietnamese restaurant and turned the place into a highly regarded club for starting comedians. The exposed signature red brick wall behind every Improv stage originated from removing wall panels and mirrors left by previous owners. Many well-known comedians have started on an Improv stage - Jay Leno, Richard Pryor, Jamie Foxx, Rodney Dangerfield, and Keenan Ivory Wayans. The 1980’s placed Improv into the limelight by launching “An Evening at the Improv” a television series of comedians performing at the Hollywood location.
As we stepped into the entry-way of the theatre, you immediately felt as though you were entering into a time capsule of past iconic comedians. A television displays, “An Evening at the Improv” building anticipation of what‘s to come. Large photos of comics are displayed along the entrance hallway. Walking into the 4,000 square foot theatre your attentions is drawn to the stage containing a piano and the signature red brick wall. The comedy and dinner club offers a wide variety of foods and drinks while enjoying the show. Improv is the only comedy club that has fresh sushi on their menu!
Budd Friedman explained why Atlanta was the best to place for the newest Improv location. “An amazing comedy scene started here about 25 years ago.” he said, “This is where we can catch a rising star; there’s nothing like it in the world.” Budd isn’t worried that the comedy scene has become over saturated by various venues and comics. He assures that, “There are never too many comics. Build it, they will come – is what I say! There is a lot of Atlanta talent that we will be using in years to come.”
The host Jamie Ward, an Atlanta native, started doing standup comedy three years ago. His star power is rapidly increasing as he is the winner of Best of Atlanta. Opening act comedian Gene Pompa from the box office hit, Just Go With It, and a Comedy Central regular gave way to a rib cracking laugh fest.
The headliner, Owen Benjamin from the television series, Sullivan and Son admitted to us, “Standup is my heart.” His comic set included everyday life topics spun into stomach tightening laughter antics. In the truest art form to improvisational comedy Owen jumped on the stage piano to give a comical performance to music.
Special guest Atlanta native and superstar; George Wallace has been a standup comedian for 36 years. Being true to the art of improvisation, George hadn’t prepared material for this appearance. “What do you want me to talk about next?” He often asked the audience to chime in. He can now be seen at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. He has had the longest running, self-funded, show totaling 9 years.
Event photography courtesy of Jason Neil of Jay|Ography and live stage photos provided by Chuckyfoto.
I’m Jamillah, I come from a small city where the buildings aren’t tall and the street lights are few. I left my small city to attend a heavily populated Big Ten University. It was there that I realized my love for people and niche for public relations and event planning. After college my longing for skyscrapers and the glow of a big city moved me to Atlanta.View all JamillahRahmaad posts.