The Improv at Harrahs
3475 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
About the Club: Those of us who walk through the doors of the Improv at Harrahs may not know just how many laughs have been heard in the hallowed halls, but our Improv is a younger sibling of the greatest comedy club of all time. Read up, and the next time you walk these hallowed halls you'll feel part of history.
In 1963 Budd Friedman opened a comedy club in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, when it was still worthy of the name. Though the neighborhood has changed, The Improv remains the gold standard of comedy clubs with more than twenty locations nationwide.
Friedman, who originally was an Ad Man in Boston, was a man with a vision. “I wanted to get into show business,” Friedman said. “So I opened a coffee shop as a showcase venue for singers to gather after their [Broadway] shows.” Pretty soon, the comics outnumbered the singers and The Improv became known as one of the most sought after gigs for comics.”
More than forty years later the “graduates” of The Improv includes dozens of names that you, your kids and even your elderly grandma know.
Richard Pryor offended his way to the top here. Robert Klein made audiences guffaw. Bette Midler practiced her Tonight Show monologues. Even Dustin Hoffman smacked the piano inside these walls. So many future stars came from the Improv, that audiences were quickly dominated by entertainment big wigs looking for the next It comedian. Newer stars like Jim Carrey, Dane Cook and Dave Attell frequent the Improv. Old timers like Bill Cosby, Chevy Chase and Billy Crystal have all made audiences chuckle. Even departed legends like Milton Berle, George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield have graced the stage. Everyone who is anyone has performed the Improv and it is likely that anyone who will be anyone will do so as well.
“Jay Leno used to drive from Boston to New York so I made sure I got him onstage. It was the smartest move I ever made,” Friedman says.
The Improv had become a force in the entertainment world, but it was premier of An Evening at the Improv on the A&E Network in 1982, that transformed The Improv into a truly cultural force. Hosted by Friedman who sported his trademark monocle “that started so I wouldn’t have to carry glasses.,” the show thrived for 14 seasons and was the one stop destination for comedy, both established veterans and up and comers.
As The Improv empire grew, Friedman began to franchise the concept. Locations sprung up in Florida, Chicago and across the big water in London.
It was only natural that the Improv would expand to Las Vegas, and in 1983 The Improv opened at The Riviera, only to transfer to Harrah’s Casino in 1995. Designed to mimic the Los Angeles Improv, complete with brick wall scrawled with jokes, the Improv has been the comedic force in Vegas. Three different comedians are added to the show weekly, keeping locals and visitors looking for a comedic salve for their gambling losses happy and smiling. It has done its job so well that it has earned four consecutive “Best Comedy Club in Vegas” awards