Mitzi Shore, owner of the Los Angeles-area club the Comedy Store and one of the most influential figures in stand-up for more than four decades, died April 11 in Los Angeles. She was 87.

The Comedy Store announced the death in a statement but did not give a cause. Her son Pauly Shore, a comedian and actor, had tweeted in recent days that Ms. Shore was in hospice. Legal documents filed by her family said she had Parkinson’s disease and other neurological problems.

Ms. Shore opened the Sunset Strip club with her husband, comedian Sammy Shore, and fellow comic Rudy De Luca in 1972. When she and her husband divorced two years later, Ms. Shore assumed control of the venue, which she soon expanded and built into a comedy empire with area locations in Los Angeles, San Diego and eventually at the former Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.

AD
AD

“Comics felt very belittled in those days — they always had to work with a singer,” Ms. Shore told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “I wanted it to be all comics. No jugglers and magicians. I wanted to give them respectability.”

In addition to offering comics a place to perform, Ms. Shore dispensed advice and guidance and occasionally offered her performers a place to sleep. Virtually every major comic, including Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld, used the club as a steppingstone and returned to hone their acts after gaining fame.

“Mitzi Shore was a pioneer who gave more comics their start than I can count,” comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted Wednesday. “I did my first legit comedy gig at the Store. She was a woman in a male dominated business who pulled no punches.”

AD

Mitzi Lee Saidel was born in Marinette, Wis., on July 25, 1930, and arrived in Los Angeles at a moment when stand-up was booming. She became a queen over the scene, with arguably more power than anyone to make or break the career of an up-and-coming comedian.

AD

Notable deaths in 2018 and 2019: Nipsey Hussle, George H.W. Bush, Stan Lee, John McCain, Aretha Franklin and other famous faces we’ve lost

shareShare
Nipsey Hussle, a Grammy nominated rapper who sought to revive South Los Angeles, died at age 33 on March 31. Read the obituary (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Warner Music)

Working as the doorman at the Comedy Store became known as an entry-level job for aspiring comedians, including for Jim Carrey and Marc Maron.

Ms. Shore essentially lived at the club through the 1970s and ’80s, and her four kids — Pauly, Scott, Peter and Sandy — were regulars, roaming the floor even when they were tiny. Her four children all survive her.

The Comedy Store, which took pride in being open 365 nights a year, was closed in her honor Wednesday.

AD
AD