Mitzi Shore

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Mitzi Shore
Richard Belzer tries to kiss Mitzi Shore at the Comedy Store.jpg
Richard Belzer and Mitzi Saidel at the Comedy Store
Born Mitzi Saidel
(1930-07-25) July 25, 1930 (age 86)
Marinette, Wisconsin, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Comedy club owner
Known for Co-Founder and Owner of The Comedy Store
Spouse(s) Sammy Shore (Divorced)
Children 4, including Pauly Shore

Mitzi Shore (née Saidel) (born July 25, 1930) is an American comedy club owner. She founded the Los Angeles comedy club, The Comedy Store in 1972 and became owner two years later. Through the club, she has had a huge influence on the careers of up-and-coming comedians for decades. Now-famous comedians like Robin Williams, Freddie Prinze, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Chevy Chase, Sam Kinison, Marc Maron, Andrew Dice Clay, Jim Carrey, Joey Diaz and Carlos Nunez have all worked at the Comedy Store for Mitzi Shore. Mitzi also founded Comedy Channel Inc. in 1982.[1]

Her former husband, Sammy Shore, is also a comedian. The couple have four children: Peter, Scott, actor Pauly and daughter Sandy.[2]

Shore's ownership of the Comedy Store has long been a source of contention between members of the Shore family. Sammy and Mitzi co-founded the Comedy Store in 1972. Mitzi is credited for naming the club. When Sammy and Mitzi divorced in 1974, Mitzi acquired complete ownership as part of their divorce settlement. Sammy Shore was later quoted in 2003 by the Los Angeles Times as explaining that he "relinquished control of the club to lower his alimony payments".

Mitzi's contribution to the club's ongoing survival and day-to-day management extended far beyond a lucky inheritance. Shortly after she took full control, Mitzi was able to obtain a significant cash loan from comedian Shecky Greene to help ensure continued operations (comedy clubs have never been viewed as sound investments by traditional creditors).[3]

Shore refused to pay comics who performed in her club, insisting that the venue was a sort of "college of comedy" where comedians learned their craft rather than a money-making enterprise. However, in 1979, after the club had been extensively expanded, comedians began to insist that they be paid for their work. Shore refused and the performers picketed the establishment in what became a bitter six week strike action. Among those involved in leading the strike were Jay Leno, David Letterman (the club's emcee), and Tom Dreesen. After several months of picketing, and an incident in which Leno was injured by a car attempting to rush the picket line, Shore relented and agreed to pay comics $15 a set. (Still $15 a set as of 2017, pay was never raised.) The settlement set a precedent that resulted in New York City comedy clubs beginning to pay their talent as well, and other comedy clubs across the country followed suit by paying comics to perform too.[4]

Mitzi's bookings were as non-traditional as her financing. As early as 1978, Shore had converted the upstairs section of The Comedy Store into the "Belly Room": a 50-seat audience for which she exclusively booked female comedians. At the time, professional comedy was very much a "boys' club", and bookings for female comedians were rare; opportunities for women to perform their own stand-up material under the same roof as the most popular comics in the country was unheard of.[5] Mitzi's liberal risk-taking with booking talent has continued for decades. In the 1990s, once female comics had become more established, Shore continued to cross boundaries with her audience by creating specialty nights for Latino, and gay and lesbian performers.[6]

In 1989, Mitzi Shore retained counsel James Blancarte and sued HBO for copyright infringement. Shore had owned and operated Comedy Channel Inc. since 1982 - a company established to create and sell video tapes of performances at The Comedy Store. 1989 was the year that HBO would launch their (ultimately ill-fated) premium cable service "The Comedy Channel". Shore's suit claimed HBO's service was an "indirect unauthorized use" of the name and trademark "Comedy Channel".[7]

Mitzi Shore currently suffers from Parkinson's disease. Her financial affairs are managed by her designated trustee, her son Peter Shore.

Tom Hanks' Playtone Company is in pre-production of a movie based on Mitzi Shore's life and impact on American Comedy.[1][8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dustin Rowles (January 26, 2010). "Exclusive: Dave and Leno -- The Early Years". Pajiba. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ Pauly Shore harnesses his roots
  3. ^ Paul Brownfield (June 22, 2003). "Echo of laughter". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The First Comedy Strike". Time Magazine. February 4, 2008. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ Lawrence Christon (April 11, 1993). "COMEDY : A Room of Their Own : Thanks to impresario Mitzi Shore and the Belly Room, for a while back in 1978-79 female comedians had a small spot to work in together, a place where they could be bad, get better and launch careers". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ Chuck Crisfulli (January 9, 1994). "Mitzi Shore : Still Minding the Store". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  7. ^ Steven Rea (May 30, 1989). "Two Cable Nets To Joke Around The Clock". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Interstate General Media. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  8. ^ Lana Berkowitz (July 15, 2010). "Pauly Shore has a dog and worries about his mother. What's not to like?". Chron. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ Ramses Flores (January 29, 2010). "Tom Hanks Developing Film Based on The Life of Mitzi Shore and The History of The Comedy Store". Collider. Retrieved March 26, 2014.