The Hollywood Improv Comedy Lab, the 50-seat experimental theater attached to the Hollywood Improv, is closing its doors after several years to become a bar/lounge. It was a black box theater designed for comedy, hosting everything from standup to improv to weird jazz-inspired comedy variety shows.
The space went from just one or two shows a week to multiple shows on many nights, with about 50 shows a month, according to LaughStub. Big names that played the Lab included Robin Williams, Sarah Silverman, David Spade and many others. It exerted some influence in the L.A. comedy community; Comedy Store marketing VP Alf LaMont told me in an interview last year how the opening of the Lab kicked them into high gear, looking at ways they could be more forward thinking in the shows they put on and how they promote themselves.
I interviewed Improv Lab booker Flam about the space last year, which you can read here. Rather than just going away, you could argue that the Improv as a whole is adopting some of the Improv Lab’s philosophy — including Flam having moved on to book the Improv itself after starting with the Lab in 2010.
The Lab itself is becoming a bar/lounge, according to Flam, with a stage for performance, but different from what previously existed.
Flam wrote a tribute to the Lab on Facebook:
The Lab at The Hollywood Improv completely changed the course of my life the past 2 years, giving me a space to grow as a performer, producer, and person. I've met, worked with, and been inspired by a long list of amazing artists, and seen some of the biggest names in comedy on that stage, alongside dozens of comedians, writers, performers, and musicians who will undoubtedly be household names soon enough. A true community developed and I am truly excited for the future The Lab has helped pave.
A tribute to the Lab was held this past Sunday, with over 50 acts in the main room paying tribute — a show with no cover, another example of the experimental mindset embraced by the Lab. By their math, since opening in 2010, the venue hosted almost a thousand shows and over 2,000 performers.
The move is part of a larger set of renovations for the Improv, which is temporarily closing its doors for renovations and expansions. Only time will tell how this affects the Improv’s business and comedic voice going forward, but the Lab has been an example of some fresh thinking in the comedy club world.
(Hat tip: The Comedy Bureau)