The newly located Irvine Improv has been open for a few weeks and while the turnout has been pretty fantastic, that's just been a "soft-opening." Today is the day for the grand-opening and what's about to kick off is a week-long event filled with A-list comics that has Orange County all a-buzz. Sure you can look at the line-up to see who is coming up but we decided to go straight to the source for some inside info by talking to the owner Robert Hartmann. After this chat, we couldn't be more excited for what's to come for the new and extremely improved Irvine Improv.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): So fill us in on your backstory. When did you get involved with the Improv?
Robert Hartmann: I started out as a bar-back in 1987. I was part of the opening group at the club. Over the course of the years, I worked my way up through the ranks holding practically every position until I ended up taking ownership stake in 1991. Now I have interest in about 18 others as well.
That's so awesome. I've been to the new Irvine location and it looks incredible. How long did it take to complete it?
Oh my god. [Laughs.] We started working on this concept three years ago with The Irvine Company and we started physical construction in November. It basically took us roughly eight months to complete.
It's so well done really. What are some club details that the visitors should know about?
Well, the comedy club is a roughly 500 seat venue and it's designed differently than other traditional comedy clubs because we have a backstage. We did that so we could actually put on theatrical performances if we choose to. It's completely different than our other clubs because the stage is much larger so we can accommodate all kinds of shows out of there. We'll be doing a lot of things that we could never accomplish on the last stage. With the high-tech audio, we also want to utilize the room in the daytime for corporate events and things of that nature. We'll also be doing live music out on the patio and are bouncing around ideas for different comedic bands to possibly play inside of the club as well. We now also have this terrific relationship with Umami Burger so the quality of food has dramatically improved. We're doing everything we can to make sure the guests will have a great experience.
I know a lot of people who are pumped you guys teamed up with Umami Burger so yeah, that's a total plus too! What can people expect for the grand opening?
We're really going to have a grand opening week because the room is going to be booked with a lot of stars. We have David Spade, Gabriel Igelsias, Maria Bamford, Rob Schneider, Daniel Tosh, and Todd Glass. We're trying to raise the experience so that anyone can feel comfortable coming in here. It's a completely different environment that we've constructed here. It's a multifaceted entertainment venue that isn't limited to typical stand-up so we're looking forward to big things!