Comedy pioneer Mitzi Shore died on April 11 at the age of 87. Shore was the founder and owner of The Comedy Store, the Hollywood club that was instrumental in launching the careers of renowned comedians such as Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Chelsea Handler and Richard Pryor.
When Shore's business gained momentum in the 1970s and '80s, the comedy world was largely dominated by men. Not only is she remembered for breaking the glass ceiling, but for curating a sense of home and community at her club. In many circles she is thought of as the matriarch of modern day comedy.
The Showtime series, "I'm Dying Up Here," is loosely based on Shore's endeavors at the Comedy Store, and in many ways honors her grit. Al Madrigal is a comic and writer on the show who also happened to get his break at the Comedy Store. He said Shore was both as a community-builder and icon in the business.
We caught up with Madrigal to honor Shore's legacy.
On what headlining the Comedy Store meant to a budding comedian's career:
You go back to Richard Pryor and the days of Jim Carrey, Louie Anderson, Arsenio [Hall]. I'm working on "I'm Dying Up Here," so I get to work with Jim and hear him tell stories about what that place meant. It was a badge of honor ... a huge deal to get your name written anywhere on the building as a paid regular. It was a community, really. All of my best friends are Comedy Store comics.
On how "I'm Dying Up Here" honors her legacy:
She's just this matriarch in the business, in a world dominated by men. It's pretty amazing what she was able to accomplish and all the hurdles in terms of being that tough female business owner. I have experience with that because my mom was sort of the same type of woman. It takes a special person to command the respect that she did. And hopefully we are showing – obviously it's a highly dramatized version of what took place – everyday daily hurdles that she would have to persevere through quite a bit.
On how she created a sense of community for her comics:
It really was a home for so many of us. There's a back bar where regulars can only go. There's a Christmas party and events. So many memorials for comics who had passed away. It was really a safe spot where we can go. You could work at all of her clubs — from Westwood to Vegas to La Jolla and to the Hollywood club. If you were a paid regular, that could be your entire livelihood. She was just a mother to so many of us throughout the history of comedy. She was there through all of it.