World-famous The Improv Club Opens in Buckhead (Re-post from Atlanta.net)

Re-post from Atlanta.net

By Mary Welch

Honestly, what’s better than great food and laughter? It’s a great combination, and now Atlanta is lucky enough to have a world-class club where you can do both. The Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre opened recently at 56 East Andrews Drive in Buckhead.

The famed comedy club, perhaps best known for its A&E show “An Evening at the Improv,” was founded in 1963 in New York City and then opened its second location in Hollywood. For more than half a century, the Improv has been the launching pad for such comics as Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler, Dave Chappelle and Andy Kaufman.

Atlanta is The Improv’s 24th U.S. location, and those who come to the Buckhead site are lucky to experience some of the best food from the Andrews Entertainment District. All too often, the food choices at clubs are mere accessories but not at The Improv. The menu is varied, reasonable and diverse. In fact, you can order from several restaurants in the Andrews Entertainment District. For example, you can get bistro plates from Cellar 56, pub fare from Stout Irish Sports Pub and sushi from Czar Ice Bar. We tried — and loved — several rolls prepared by master sushi chef Saito Saito of Czar Ice Bar. The lobster roll features lobster, avocado and cream cheese; the mango roll features shrimp tempura and crabstick.

While our favorite dish was the grilled lamb pops featuring a blackberry balsamic reduction and wild mushroom polenta, the menu has something for everyone — wings, quesadillas, calamari, nachos, burgers and wraps. You can have dinner before the show and sample an appetizer or two coupled with great cocktails or you can have a full dinner with dessert with well-paired wines. There is something for everyone!

But let’s face it, the real stars are the comics, and they never fail to amuse, entertain and bring the laughs. The night we were there comedian Jamie Ward hosted the show, followed by Gene Pompa, who is often seen on late night talk shows. It was obvious that he was a veteran of comedy clubs and television. If the Borscht Belt were alive and well, he would be a headliner.

The star of the evening was Owen Benjamin of TBS’s “Sullivan & Son” as well as “Comedy Central Presents: Owen Benjamin.” He centered his show on the mundane aspects of life. He was great at bantering with the audience and had an everyday comic approach that reminded us of Jerry Seinfeld.

The club is also perfect for private parties. A reception/cocktail event can host 350 guests, and a seated banquet event can handle 100 to 120 guests. If you want to have a pre-function cocktail event, you can invite up to 50 guests.

And, if you ever thought you had a knack for comedy, you can find out every Sunday when it’s open mic night at The Improv.

The club already has booked national comics such as Louie Anderson and others who are supporting players in sitcoms, namely John Henton from “The Hughleys” and “Living Single” and comics Bobby Slayton, Maryellen Hooper, Karen Morgan and Sean Patton. You may not recognize their names, but you will recognize their faces as they all have been on the late night shows as well as Comedy Central.

And, that is the long-term fun of The Improv. Yes, you can go and have a fun-filled night of laughter and good food. But years from now, when you are watching television you’ll be able to turn to your friends and say “I saw him/her years ago at the Improv in Atlanta just as he/she was starting out. I knew he/she was going to be a star.”

Mary Welch is a veteran journalist who writes about travel, lifestyle and business. Her work has appeared in publication such as the “Atlanta Journal Constitution,” “The Fulton County Daily Report” and “Family Vacation Critic.”