The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall (2013) is an EPIX documentary narrated by Adam Sandler about the stand-up comedy stage founded in 1963 by producer Budd Friedman and actress Silver Saunders in New York City, and later in Los Angeles in 1975, that launched the career of a number of successful comics, including Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Pryor, Jay Leno, Larry David, Lewis Black, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Judd Apatow and Jimmy Fallon.
If you want to succeed in a field, you have to endure long hours of hard work for no or low pay while you hone the necessary skills.
Jay Leno: “I used to sleep in the alley around the corner. I remember waking up and I would see Dyke’s Lumber Yard across the street. I didn’t have any place to live. […] And I thought, ‘oh, really, is this my life now? Is this what show business is? Sleeping in an alley?’ But just to get on at The Improv, it was worth it.”
Judd Apatow: “The person that I, you know, inspired me in a lot of ways was Larry Miller because Larry Miller had this incredible polished act. He could do two and a half hours. […] He would say, ‘you know how I do that? I write. I write all day. Most comedians are at the mall. I write.'”
Jerry Seinfeld: “Why are there not more giant comedians breaking more than once every 13 god-damned years? ‘Cause they don’t put the work in. That’s why. They have a million others things they can do. And that’s a handicap.”
Jimmy Fallon: “I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays, whatever I could do. And you would get a check for $8.25 per set.”
Ray Romano: “I remember Leno saying, it takes six years to really find out who you are on stage.”