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Though there have been a dozen or so soft-opening gigs in the past few weeks, Irvine Improv officially celebrates its latest venture with a weeklong grand opening party that kicks off Tuesday with headlining comedian Gabriel Iglesias. Multiple large, flat-screen monitors have been installed for easy viewing throughout, as well as a premium sound system with dozens of speakers that ensure not even one joke will go unheard.Todd Glass will take the stage Wednesday, followed by Maria Bradford on Aug. Though the space now has a more upscale theater look, it has been designed to maintain the intimacy of traditional comedy clubs. Next March, Howard will become the first comic to play four consecutive nights at the hallowed hall as part of his 2014 Wonderbox world tour, which also travels to the United States and Australia.

While the rest of us were squinting at Michael Mc Intyre through our monocles, Howard built up a social media army (2.5 million Facebook friends and counting, over 500,000 followers on Twitter), and in 2011 sold over 300,000 arena tickets to people who, we’re often told, expect to get all their entertainment for free: the young. A colleague tells me that her 13-year-old son mainlined episodes of ‘Good News’ while recuperating from an appendectomy, but had to be stopped when he literally began busting a gut.

Then, he offers guidance on how to handle the various dilemmas that often arise while on a first date in this half-hour stand-up special.

Josh Sneed proposes trading the state of Montana to Canada in exchange for free health care.

“These are comics that have risen up through the Improv comedy clubs,” says Robert Hartmann, managing partner of the Southern California Improvs and CEO of Levity Entertainment Group.

Hartmann opened the original Irvine Improv at University Town Center near UC Irvine in 1986 and moved the venue to the Spectrum in late 1999. ’,” he says with a laugh as we sit in a far corner booth in the current location. When I told them I was closing that down and moving to this space, they had the same reaction.


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