The Comedy Store (London)
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|Owner||Don Ward and Peter Rosengard|
It was named after The Comedy Store club in the United States, which Rosengard had visited the previous year. Starting out above a strip club, in 1982 they moved to Leicester Square at a premises they were able to take over formally in 1985.
The club was the focus of the "alternative comedy" boom in the early 1980s and helped start the careers of many comedians, including Paul Merton, French & Saunders, Alexei Sayle, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton, Jo Brand, Mark Thomas, Andrew Bailey,  Pat Condell and John Sparkes.
In October 1985, an improvisational group called The Comedy Store Players was formed, consisting of Mike Myers, Neil Mullarkey, Kit Hollerbach, Dave Cohen and Paul Merton. The group has had several lineup changes over the years, and now features a rotating team of Neil Mullarkey, Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Richard Vranch, Jim Sweeney, Lee Simpson and Andy Smart, together with frequent guest appearances. Several of The Comedy Store Players appeared on the BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4 comedy game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
In 1990 The Cutting Edge satirical comedy team was formed by comedy journalist John Connor (formerly comedy editor at radical London listings magazine City Limits). The original team was Mark Thomas, Kevin Day, Bob Boyton, Nick Revill and Richard Morton. The shows aim was to recapture the political edge that was fostered at the original Comedy Store.
Comedian Paul Merton is one of the longest performing mainstream comics to still be associated with the venue from his debut performance in 1984. He presented a BBC 1 documentary, 25 Years of the Comedy Store - A Personal History by Paul Merton (11 January 2005).
The Comedy Store also has sister venues in Manchester (opened in 2000), and Bournemouth (2006). There was also a venue at the Merrion Centre in Leeds which opened in November 2003 but closed in June 2004. A sister venue also opened in Mumbai, India in 2010.
In 2016 British artist Carl Randall painted the portrait of comedian Jo Brand standing in front of The Comedy Store, as part of the artist's 'London Portraits' series, where he asked various cultural figures to chose a place in London for the backdrop of their portraits. In an interview Brand explained why she chose The Comedy Store for her portrait, and her experiences performing there early in her career.
- "Comedy Store Players celebrate 25 years of improv" (22 October 2010) BBC
- The Guardian, Monday 23 November 2015 Andrew Bailey: ‘People have violent arguments about whether I'm funny or not’
- "Comedy Store closes; Leeds venue lasts just 8 months" (30 Jun 2004) Chortle
- Carl Randall's 'London Portraits' on display in National Portrait Gallery., The Royal Drawing School, London, 2016
- Comedienne Jo Brand and The Comedy Club., Carl Randall's artist website, 2016
- Carl Randall's London Portraits - Video Documentary., The Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation London, 2016
- London Portraits - Video Documentary., Youtube, 2016
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