Tom Hanks Producing Film Based on THE COMEDY STORE

Movie Tom Hanks by Joey Paur

For those of you that don't know The Comedy Store is a famous comedy club in LA where some of the greatest comedians throughout history have performed their comedy acts. Tom Hanks and his Playtone production company have been quietly getting a film based on the beginnings of this comedy club into production. The movie is based partially on the life of Mitzi Shore, who is the co-founder of the club, and also if you don't know, is Pauly Shore's mom. This is the club where comedians like David Letterman and Jay Leno got their start along with Eddie Murphy, Tim Allen, Bob Saget, Chevy Chase, Robin Williams, Jim Belushi, Jim Carrey, and hundreds of others. 

The film is based on the William Knoedelseder’s nonfiction book, I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy’s Golden Era. 

Here is a description of the book:

Letterman, Leno, Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman, Richard Lewis, Garry Shandling, and many other soon-to-be-stars were once young, broke, and funny in 1970s L.A. They were also friends...until one event changed everything.

I'm Dying Up Here chronicles the collective coming of age of the standup comedians who defined American humor during the past three decades. Born early in the Baby Boom, they grew up watching The Tonight Show, went to school during Viet Nam and Watergate, migrated en masse to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s and created an artistic community unlike any before or since. They were arguably the funniest people of their generation, living in a late-night world of sex, drugs, dreams and laughter. For one brief shining moment, standup comics were as revered as rock stars. It was Comedy Camelot but, of course, it couldn't last. In the late 1970s William Knoedelseder was a cub reporter assigned to cover the burgeoning local comedy scene for the Los Angeles Times. He wrote the first major newspaper profiles of Leno, Letterman, Andy Kaufman, and others. He got to know many of them well. And so he covered the scene too when the comedians-who were not paid for performing at the career-making-or-breaking venue called The Comedy Store-tried to change an exploitative system and incidentally tore apart their own close-knit community.

So what happened at the Comedy Store that tore everything apart? Pajiba explains that it was Mitzi Shore’s policy of not paying the comics for their stand-up performances. Her theory was that The Comedy Store was something of a training ground, a college for comedians, a workshop for new material, and she felt no obligation to pay for their acts besides providing free drinks. Meanwhile, she made a fortune off of their efforts, despite the fact that many of those comics were living in their cars and surviving on fast-food condiments.

The comedians eventually went on strike, and the comics were pitted against Mitzi Shore, though many of those new union members also turned on themselves. Things took a turn for the worse when a comic named Steve Lubetkin, was prohibited from performing at the club after going on strike. He, in turn, committed suicide by jumping off of a hotel across the street and leaving a suicide note that read, “My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at the Comedy Store.”

This is really quite an amazing and interesting story and I love that Tom Hanks is involved with this project. This has got the makings for a freakin great film, and I'm excited that it's getting made. 

GeekTyrant Homepage