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The Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena, California has been a favorite for comedians and stand-up aficionados for years. Now, The Ice House was recently recognized as one the Top Five Comedy Clubs in the country by researcher Dr. Peter McGraw and author, Joel Warner, writers of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. With a star-filled roster of past and present performers, including Jimmy Fallon, George Lopez, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, George Carlin, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Marc Maron and Dana Carvey, The Ice House Comedy Club has been singled out as one of the “best rooms” in the highly competitive comedy club industry. McGraw and Warner conducted a study from their own travels around the world exploring the science of what makes things funny. In the process, “We stumbled on an important question: What makes a good comedy club?” The researchers noted, “According to many of the comics we interviewed, a ‘good room’ is one that’s dimly lit, densely packed, with hard chairs, low ceilings, a red curtain, and nothing at all that’s blue.”
When interviewed about the honor, Bob Fisher, Ice House owner and CEO, commented, “It feels great to be recognized as one of the top comedy clubs in the country and we send a big thank you to the Humor Code. We strive to support talent and give customers the best comedy shows possible. It’s good to know we we’re doing something right.”
The Ice House Comedy Club opened in 1960 as a place for both folk musicians and comedians to perform, and then evolved into featuring only comic acts. It was established before any of the other comedy clubs in Hollywood or Southern California. Older comedy clubs in New York City have closed but The Ice House legacy continues, giving it the distinction of also being the oldest ongoing comedy club in America and, by default, the world. Established and well-known acts call it home and new talent try their material to break into the business. Due to its longevity and heritage, The Ice House is also a living comedy museum. Memorabilia from comedy legends like Rodney Dangerfield, David Letterman, Bob Newhart, Johnny Carson and Jack Parr are on its walls. A shoe wall features footwear from Lilly Tomlin, The Smothers Brothers, Phyllis Diller and more.
The features that made the Ice House Comedy Club stand out in the research: its “low-lit, intimate showrooms and laid-back atmosphere foster a communal experience between audience members and the performer”. Jordan Brady, former comedian and director of 2010’s documentary I Am Comic, attributes part of the club’s success to its atmosphere. “A great club experience is best served dark and intimate.” Of playing The Ice House Jordan says, “Awesome laughs that ricochet around the room and infect the crowd.”
Other clubs in the Top Five are: The Comedy Cellar in New York, NY; Comedy Works in Denver, CO; Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago, IL; and Comedy Club on State in Madison, WI.