Levity Entertainment Group announced recently that it has acquired The Improv, the legendary comedy brand owned by Budd Friedman and Mark Lonow. More than 50 years after Budd Friedman invented the concept of a “comedy club” with the opening of The Improv in 1963, The Improv has grown to over 20 clubs nationwide, and also maintains a library of classic comedy assets, including An Evening at The Improv series, originally broadcast on A&E for 14 years.
“There are few comedy brands with such an authentic and rich history,” says Levity founder Robert Hartmann. “We are excited to build on its legacy and evolve the live experience for new audiences.”
“When I started The Improv on 44th Street with little more than a brick wall, I couldn’t imagine it would endure for over a half century,” says Friedman. “So much of the history of comedy played out on our stages.” Adds Lonow, “I’m so proud of what we accomplished, and I have no doubt The Improv will continue to be the premier showcase for the best comedy talent.” Both Friedman and Lonow said, “We are honored to have been part of launching so many incredible comedic careers over the years. We have had such fun doing it.”
The Improv acquisition signals the beginning of Levity’s rapid expansion of premium entertainment venues globally. While keeping the legacy of The Improv brand, the venues will offer a vastly improved consumer experience for comedy fans featuring upgraded seating, premium food and beverage options, and state-of-the-art technology.
“The Improv, together with our existing venues, allows us to build a global comedy network, which is such a valuable asset to our production and talent management business,” says Alireza Ghaemian, Levity’s CFO and chief strategist. “The Improv has always been the home for the best artists and we will continue to build on that legacy.”