Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walkabout: Go Ahead & Laugh If You Want To

Schwab's Pharmacy was a drug store located at 8024 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California and has been widely noted as a meeting place and "headquarters" of movie actors and movie industry dealmakers from the 1930s through the 1950s. Like many drug stores in the United States throughout the mid-twentieth century, Schwab's sold medicines and had a counter serving ice cream dishes and light meals.

Schwab's was photographed in the film Sunset Boulevard as a setting where the lead character, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis, ran into friends in the movie industry.

Schwab's closed its doors on October 22, 1983. Five years later, on October 6, 1988, Schwab's fell to the wrecking ball to make way for a shopping complex and multiplex theater.
Although Jamie Masada barely spoke English which he mixed in with Hebrew and Farsi, he was soon working with comedians in a comedy club. Such comedic geniuses as Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Jim Carrey, Rodney Dangerfield, Red Foxx and Neal Israel, took Masada under their wings.

A dispute over club owners refusing to pay comedians drove Masada to create The Laugh Factory in Groucho Marx's old building at the age of 16. With a small loan from Neal Israel, he was able to turn his dream into reality, while simultaneously helping comedians

Recognizing Jamie's passion, Richard Pryor was the first comedian to serenade the Laugh Factory stage in 1979. Masada offered to pay Richard, instead Pryor handed him a hundred dollar bill and wrote on it, "You need this for your rent, boy."

Masada has always been ahead of his time and was called a true visionary by the LA Times. He earned this reputation through brilliant marketing strategies and business ventures- inspired by his passion for comedy.

As the country was gripped with the fear of the AIDS epidemic, The Laugh Factory was the first business in America to provide condoms to its customers. This stroke of marketing genius brought the Laugh Factory national exposure and Masada became a hugely sought after guest on the national press junket. Over the next three decades, Jamie Masada would constantly return to the forefront of national media. In 1985, Masada marched down Pennsylvania Avenue with Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Red Foxx, amongst many others in The Laugh Factory's campaign to send the first comedian into space. The campaign drew so much attention that President Regan asked Bob Hope to arrange a meeting with Masada.

USA Today called The Laugh Factory the number one comedy club in the country.

-- www.laughfactory.com

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