Stand-up comedy pioneer, Mitzi Shore, dies at 87

LOS ANGELES — Mitzi Shore, owner of the Los Angeles club the Comedy Store and one of the most influential figures in stand-up for more than four decades, has died. She was 87.

Spokeswoman Jodi Gottlieb released a statement from the club announcing Shore’s death, calling her the “legendary godmother of the world famous Comedy Store” and “an extraordinary businesswoman and decades ahead of her time who cultivated and celebrated the artistry of stand-up comedy.”

“Mom/Mitzi passed Early in the morning at 4:42 a.m.,” her son, the comedian and actor Pauly Shore, tweeted Wednesday, “my heart lays heavy.”

No cause was given, but Pauly Shore had been tweeting in recent days that she had been in hospice, and legal documents filed by her family said she had Parkinson’s disease and other neurological problems.

Starting in 1974, Mitzi Shore gave comics gigs, advice, guidance, a clubhouse to hang out and talk shop in and occasionally a stairwell to sleep in.

“No words can express the gratitude I have for her,” Jim Carrey tweeted Wednesday, along with a drawing of himself with Mitzi Shore. “We met in 1979. She opened the door to my dreams! If she loved you, you did well. If she didn’t, you did something else. I will love her forever.”

Born Mitzi Saidel in Marinette, Wisconsin, she took over ownership of the 2-year-old club on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip after divorcing its co-founder, comedian Sammy Shore, in 1974.

She arrived at a moment when a huge stand-up boom was erupting, and became a queen over the scene, with arguably more power than anyone to make or break the career of an up-and-coming comedian.

Virtually every major comic from Richard Pryor to Robin Williams to Jerry Seinfeld used the club as a stepping-stone and returned to hone their acts after gaining fame.

A chorus of those comics tweeted praise Wednesday.

“This is a very sad day for the family of stand-up comics on the planet,” Arsenio Hall wrote.

“Mitzi Shore was a pioneer who gave more comics their start than I can count,” Kathy Griffin tweeted. “I did my first legit comedy gig at the Store. She was a woman in a male dominated business who pulled no punches.”

“I love you Mitzi Shore,” Whitney Cummings tweeted. “Thank you for giving me a family and a home.”

“Mitzi Shore made an indelible mark on comedy and my brain,” tweeted Marc Maron.

Maron, Carrey and many other future stars started out as doormen at the club, a coveted entryway into comedy for stand-ups with thin resumes, which Patton Oswalt acknowledged in his tribute.

“RIP Mitzi Shore,” Oswalt tweeted. “I should’ve taken the doorman job when you offered it to me.”

Mitzi Shore essentially lived at the club through the 1970s and 80s, and her four kids were regulars roaming the floor even when they were tiny.

“It’s like where I was born and raised,” Pauly Shore told The Associated Press in 2005. “People that know me associate me with MTV and the movies. They don’t know that I grew up in this legendary place.”

In addition to Pauly, she is survived by sons Scott and Peter and daughter Sandy.

The Comedy Store, which took pride in being open 365 nights a year, will be closed in her honor Wednesday.

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