Mitzi Shore, Owner and Founder of the Comedy Store, Dies at 87


Courtesy of The Comedy Store

Mitzi Shore passed away April 11 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. The Comedy Store, which Shore owned and founded in Los Angeles in 1972, will be closed that day in her honor.

Comedians express their gratitude to Mitzi Shore, via @TheComedyStore on Twitter

Michael Khuraibet, Digital Editor-in-Chief

Mitzi Shore, owner and founder of the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, died at 87 early Wednesday. According to the Los Angeles Times, Shore had been battling Parkinson’s disease. Her son, Pauly Shore, announced on Twitter that his mother was in hospice care on April 7, before announcing her passing days later.

Shore owned the comedy club for 46 years. She and her then-husband, comedian Sammy Shore, co-founded the Store (as it’s known) in 1972. When they divorced in 1974, Mitzi took sole ownership of the club in exchange for lower alimony payments. There, Shore transformed the Store from a variety room to a comedy club with three performance venues.

According to Paul Brownfield, who covered comedy for the L.A. Times in 2003, the Store opened during a prime to be a comic in Los Angeles. In 1972, “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson moved to the West Coast. Comedians were often invited to perform on the show, with the Store serving as a major stepping stone.

Shore referred to the Store as an “artists colony” (Los Angeles Times), where comics could freely experiment with new material. To this day, the Belly Room at the Comedy Store is still frequently used as a workshop room.

The Vegas-style Main Room was a place for paid entertainers to take the stage. This led to many up-and-comers to protest against the Store. More than five weeks later, the strike was resolved when Shore agreed to pay performers $25 per set.

As a woman in comedy, Shore broke the mold. The industry is heavily male-dominated, but Shore became one of first aggressive female booking agents in comedy.

“It is with great sadness and very heavy hearts that we report the passing of Mitzi Shore, the legendary Godmother of the world famous Comedy Store,” said the Comedy Store in an official statement. “Mitzi was an extraordinary businesswoman and decades ahead of her time who cultivated and celebrated the artistry of stand-up comedy. She was also a loving mother, not only to her own four children, but to the myriad of comedians who adored her. She leaves behind an indelible mark and legacy and has helped change the face of comedy.”

Many comedians have gone to Twitter to share their condolences, including Marc Maron, Patton Oswalt, and more. “Mitzi Shore made an indelible mark on comedy and my brain,” Maron tweeted. Jim Carrey expressed his gratitude to Shore, tweeting, “We met in 1979. She opened the door to my dreams! If she loved you, you did well. If she didn’t, you did something else. I will love her forever.”

In Shore’s honor, donations can be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, where the Comedy Store created a Comedian’s Assistance Fund.