Tom Hanks Developing Film on History of The Comedy Store
Not only do I enjoy laughing, but I seek out comedy like a detective, and follow stand-up comedians like others follow indie rock bands: it's an obsession. So it pleases me immensely to hear from Pajiba that Tom Hanks and his Playtone Productions banner are developing a film based partially on the life of Mitzi Shore, but moreso on her ownership of the staple comedy club in Los Angeles, The Comedy Store, which served as the starting point for dozens of comedians who are nothing short of comedy icons today. The narrative is based on the book I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy's Golden Era.
Don't let the fact that Mitzi Shore is also the mother of Pauly Shore change your opinion, because her venue can be credited with the foundation of careers for comedians like Eddie Murphy, Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, Jim Belushi, Jim Carrey, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and countless other hilarious comics still in showbiz today. However, Shore's management of The Comedy Store created plenty of rifts in the comedy world as the source material focuses on a period in the 70's when Shore instituted a policy of not paying comedians with anything but free drinks, thus making her own fortune off of their entertainment. She saw her venue as a training ground for honing their skills in a sort of "comedy college." Comedians saw this as bullshit.
Following this new policy, the comedians went on strike, which unfortunately led to some performers being banned from the venue, including Steve Lubetkin who fired back at Shore by jumping off of a hotel across the street and leaving a poignant suicide note that read: "My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at the Comedy Store." So it won't be all laughs, because, believe it or not, comedy is serious business. Personally I can't wait to see the ensemble cast that's going to portray the decades younger versions of all the iconic comedians of today. This has the potential to be as compelling as Jim Carrey's turn as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, or the suddenly relevant story of the battle for "The Tonight Show" in The Late Shift.
Hanks is no stranger to the showbiz-based narrative as his directorial debut was the 1996 music industry based film That Thing You Do! and back in the day he stepped into the stand-up world in Punchline. And there's no doubt the guy loves comedy with plenty of appearances on late night talk shows (usually being more entertaining than promoting his own stuff) in addition to his long running stints as host of "Saturday Night Live" which have enough solid material to justify his own "SNL Best of Tom Hanks" DVD (although he hasn't hosted SNL since 2006). Can't wait to see how this project develops - we'll keep you updated on it!