Mitzi Shore, owner of the Comedy Store, passed away on April 11 at the age of 87 after battling Parkinson’s disease. The Comedy Store, a stand-up comedy club that became a legendary Los Angeles institution, was opened by Shore with her ex-husband Sammy Shore in 1972, before Mitzi became the sole owner and operator of the property after she divorced her husband in 1974.
Over the decades, legendary comedians like Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, and Garry Shandling appeared at the Comedy Shore very early in their careers before eventually becoming household names. The institution inspired the Jim Carrey–produced Showtime series I’m Dying up Here, in which the Academy Award–winning actress Melissa Leo plays a no-nonsense comedy club owner and mentor based on Shore in the early 1970s.
On April 7, her son Pauly Shore, the former MTV VJ and comedic actor known for his roles in 1990s stoner comedies such as Encino Man, tweeted that his mother was in hospice treatment. The adored Comedy Store owner died just a few days later, to the surprise of many comedians who got their big breaks in part because of Shore and her push for paying performers in comedy clubs, giving them 20-minute sets. Many up-and-coming comics acquired set times at the Comedy Store before booking a time slot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, laying the groundwork for the careers of future icons.
Jim Carrey, Kathy Griffin, Whitney Cummings, Patton Oswalt, and many more comedians took to social media on Wednesday to mourn Shore’s passing. They expressed gratitude for her mentorship and willingness to take a chance on their budding careers and shared anecdotes of their first times performing at the Comedy Store.