Legendary Comedy Performances in L.A.

The Wiltern | Photo courtesy of Mark Luethi, Flickr
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If you’re a comedy fan, there’s no better place than Los Angeles to see your favorite comedians in great comedy clubs like the Hollywood Improv, the Laugh Factory or the Sunday night UnCabaret series at First & Hope. As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles has a long history of hosting legendary performances from some of the all-time comedy greats.


Richard Pryor at the Hollywood Palladium

Regarded by many as the greatest standup comedian of all time, Richard Pryor was captured at the height of his powers in Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip. Pryor is the writer and star of the 1982 film, which was shot live at the Hollywood Palladium on two consecutive nights. Both shows were sold out within hours of the box office opening. Pryor performed to capacity crowds of more than two thousand people, which included celebrities such as Jim Brown, Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jackson Browne, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Pryor pulled no punches as he took the audience through hysterical stories of his trip to Africa, his early days playing one-nighters in Mafia clubs, and an astonishing account of the accident that nearly took his life.

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl

They’ve been called the “Beatles of comedy,” and like the band from Liverpool, Monty Python’s performances at the Hollywood Bowl are the stuff of legend. Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl is a 1982 film that features all six members of Monty Python performing some of their greatest sketches, including “The Ministry of Silly Walks,” “The Argument Sketch,” “Nudge Nudge,” “Silly Olympics” and more.

Record-Setting Performances at the Laugh Factory

The Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuous Stand Up Comedy Show (Multiple Comedians) was set at the Laugh Factory on December 9, 2010. The show lasted 80 hours and included 170 different acts by 150 comedians. Dom Irrera was on stage when the record was broken. The Laugh Factory also keeps track of the longest single sets performed at the club, a record currently held by Dane Cook, who performed for seven hours, 34 minutes in January 2008. The current Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuous Stand Up by an Individual is held by L.A.-based comedian Bob Marley, who performed for 40 hours in Portland, Maine in 2010.

The Kids in the Hall at the Wiltern

Famed Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall ended the five-year run of their eponymous TV series in 1995. They reunited in 2000 for a 25-city North American tour that included two stops at The Wiltern. The performances featured a mix of classic sketches and new material, including favorite characters like Buddy Cole, the Chicken Lady and the Headcrusher. The tour was chronicled in a documentary released the following year, The Kids in the Hall: Same Guys, New Dresses

Steve Martin & The Blues Brothers at the Universal Amphitheatre

These days, Steve Martin is as well known for being a Grammy-winning banjo player and critically acclaimed writer as he is a comedian. Back in the late 1970s, his fame was more like that of a rock star. Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guy” persona was in full effect at that time, and his comedy tour appearances were like rock concerts, performed at arenas in front of thousands of fans. A series of these legendary shows took place September 9-17, 1978 at the Universal Amphitheatre (now the Gibson Amphitheatre), with The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi) as the opening act. The Blues Brothers album Briefcase Full of Blues was recorded on the opening night of the run.

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