The Improv is a comedy club franchise. Originally, it was a single venue founded in 1963 by Budd Friedman and located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City on West 44th near the SE corner of 9th Ave. A second location was opened in 1974 at 8162 Melrose Avenue in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, California. The LA Improv was the original site for the A&E Network television series An Evening at the Improv, which ran from 1982 until 1996, and was produced by Larry O'Daly, created by O'Daly and Barbara Hosie-O'Daly, with Budd Friedman as a warm-up host. Other locations have opened since then, such as in Tampa, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Atlantic City, and Louisville, Kentucky. Levity Entertainment Group is the largest shareholder of The Improv comedy clubs.
The Improv was the place to see Richard Pryor, Robert Klein, Steve Landesberg, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Jay Leno, and others when they were just starting out. Dustin Hoffman played piano there. On any given night in the later 1970s, one could see Gilbert Gottfried, Joe Piscopo, Bruce Mahler, Mark Schiff, Larry David, and many others. Often famous comedians would walk in to "work out" before appearances on The Tonight Show. It was not unusual to find celebrities in the audience.