Is The Comedy Store Haunted? (We Asked A Regular)
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While most comedy clubs are only haunted by the ghosts of Michael Richards’ and Chris D’Elia’s careers, The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, California has a long history of paranormal activity. The hauntings have stirred enough buzz that Ghost Adventures did a Comedy Store episode.
Common apparitions seen in The Comedy Store include that of a comedian who committed suicide because of a lack of stage time, an old showgirl, Men in suits from the 40’s, an old club bouncer named “Gus”, and even the disembodied sounds of an entire audience.
I spoke with Steve Byrne, a Store regular for nearly two decades, on his experiences with ghosts in the club, and he eagerly told me about his run-ins with the spirits. Our discussion has been edited for clarity and peppered with Scooby-Doo references.
“So the deal with The Store is that at one time it was a nightclub called Ciro’s,” says Byrne. “Ciros was a Hollywood night spot. Oscar after parties took place at Ciro’s. After Sammy Davis Junior lost his eye, the first show he did was at Ciro’s.
Sinatra famously had a bunch of his friends show up with eyepatches to make Sammy feel more comfortable and move on. Which would be horrible but back then Sammy had a great sense of humor about it. So you used to see Dean Martin, Count Basie, Johnny Carson, Danny K, like everybody who was anybody back in the day would perform at Ciro’s.”
“During prohibition the mob owned it so there are underground tunnels still to this day that lead to the other side of Sunset. The basement remains really spooky, I mean you walk in there and get chills, because the rumors are that they would whack people either in the basement, or walk'em off the roof, but is where some people (allegedly) got killed.
In the 70’s, Sammy and Mitzi Shore and Rudy DeLuca started what would later become The Comedy Store by having young comedians appear in a partitioned area now known as The Original Room. The Original Room was partitioned off from The Main Room, which is where the famous acts of Ciro’s used to perform. It slowly became barren as time went on."
If you're thinking that The Comedy Store sounds like a Scooby-Doo house at this point, you're not alone.
“So I personally had two experiences where I was like, I need get the f--k out of here.” Continues Byrne. “This is back in early 2000s when nobody hung out at the club. So The Main Room was basically like a tomb. There were never shows in The Main Room because we could never get enough people in there.
I remember one night being in a group of young comics all hanging out after hours. So we’re all drinking and someone was in The Original Room bathroom, and I had to whiz bad. So I headed for The Main Room bathroom. Just as I reached it, I heard a door slam, loudly. I figured it was one of the guys. On my return, I asked if anybody slammed a door, and they all swore it wasn’t them. So I had heard about doors closing and lights flashing and all other manner of spooky crap at the store. I knew none of them did it and all of the hairs on my arm went up."
Hey, Shaggy, did you just see the eyes on that painting move?
“There used to be a piano in The Main Room that Jeff Scott played as he introduced you. I remember being in dressing room of the Main Room one night, hanging out with some people, and we hear two keys play on the piano. I look over and there's no one at the piano. I f--king ran out of that club so f--king quick because you hear these rumors and you think ‘No way, it's all BS,' but when the piano thing happened I was like - this thing is definitely f--king haunted”.
Another story involves the legendary Sam Kinison. Kinison was playing The Original Room one night while Blake Clark, who worked and performed at the club, closed up The Main Room. Clark heard a low murmur of voices in The Main Room which got louder and louder as during Kinison’s act. Both Sam and Blake heard the voices get louder and chant “it’s him. it’s him.” Lights began to flicker and the sound system started to bug for Sam, prompting Kinison to dare the ghosts to show themselves, resulting in all the lights shutting off.
Is the Comedy Store Haunted? It’s difficult to say for sure, but if you ask anybody in The Mystery Machine or the comedians who perform there regularly, they’ll tell you it’s no joke.
Top Image: Mike Dillion/Wiki Commons