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The Haunted Comedy Store Hollywood





The Comedy Store was opened in April 1972 by comedians Sammy Shore and Rudy DeLuca. The building was formerly the home of Ciro's, a popular Hollywood nightclub owned by William Wilkerson, and later a rock and roll venue, where The Byrds were discovered in 1964.

When the venue reopened as The Comedy Store in 1972, it included a 99-seat theatre, where Johnny Carson was one of the first comics to perform As a result of a divorce settlement, Sammy Shore's ex-wife Mitzi Shore began operating the club in 1973, and she was able to buy the building in 1976. She immediately renovated and expanded the club to include a 450-seat main room.


In 1974, The Comedy Store hosted the wedding reception of newlyweds Liza Minnelli (daughter of Judy Garland) and Jack Haley, Jr., (son of Jack Haley who played "the Tin Man" in the 1939 movie, "The Wizard of Oz" which starred Liza's mother). The Comedy Club signage was covered, for the evening, by signs reading "Ciro's", denoting the venue's prior identity. The event was attended by many dozens of Hollywood glitterati, including Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson, Ceasar Romaro and other stars, past and present. The soiree was so grand that Sunset Boulevard was temporarily blocked by police to allow Hollywood royalty to arrive in their limos unmolested by photographers and reporters.

This areas bad reputation dates back to the 1920s—maybe even further because it was here fifty years before when bandits, such as, Tiburcio Vasquez applied their trade. 


During this time, the mafia of course "had its fingers in this club." As Wilkerson had several clubs on the Sunset Strip, he probably worked out business deals with Micky Cohen, the underworld boss on the Sunset Strip who controlled the vice businesses on The Sunset Strip.

Sunset Boulevard was first established in 1870 and up until 1984 this infamous Strip was still unincorporated land, which meant it was not officially a part of Los Angeles. Therefore during this time the Strip was not under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department.

This fact turned the area into a “safe haven” for casinos, burlesque theatres—strip clubs—gay and straight brothels and speak easies during prohibition. This area also became the ideal spot for nightclubs—many of which remain along the Strip today.




Official mob unpleasant business was taken care of downstairs to the basement. There was a killing and torture room to hurt, punish and kill problem people. Customers who couldn't pay their gaming debts, romanced the wrong waitress or showgirl, or were guilty of some other offense were the ones who suffered and died here.

In the basement, there also was an abortion clinic set up for knocked-up showgirls, prostitutes and girlfriends of mobsters to get rid of their tummy bumps. These women probably didn't have a choice in this matter. A nurse of questionable skill who was on Mickey's payroll, performed illegal abortions. One woman died from her abortion, and the nurse was "publicly humiliated" and probably killed by the dead woman's boyfriend.


The building that houses the Comedy Store is like the rest of the Strip for it has a very seedy history. In the 1920s this building housed the Club Seville. This club boasted a Marine Room, which had a glass dance floor made of crystals that was surrounded by fountains.

Fish swam beneath peoples feet as they danced, this effect was topped off by colored lights. This club only lasted a year for women didn't like the idea of fish looking up their dresses and others feared this glass floor might break

The most famous club to occupy the space was Ciro’s restaurant where during Hollywood’s Golden Era the elite came to party.

At this time one of Hollywood’s most notorious brothels was located right next door. Myth has it many stars that visited Ciro's also took part in its delights.

Ciro's also hosted the infamous gangster Mickey Cohen who was known as “The King of the Sunset Strip”. It is said Cohen based his operation out of Ciro's. It was during this period that many feel the building first became haunted.


Legend states that the building still has the peepholes and handgun stations that Cohen’s men used during the bloody "Sunset Wars" where mobsters fought for turf dominance in 1947.

This legend grew as it became widely accepted that Cohen used Ciro's basement to beat and even murder some of his enemies. Some even wildly speculated that Cohen buried some of his victims under this basement floor.

Another claim is this basement was used for illegal abortions—serving the club’s dance girls and the prostitutes from the brothel next door that found they had an unwanted pregnancy.
Separating fact from fiction in this case can be a challenge but regardless this buildings very dark history has resulted in the Comedy Store having several restless ghosts today. 

One apparition that is seen is that of a mysterious man who wears a World War II bomber jacket. He is seen most often in the upstairs office and in the Comedy Store’s kitchen. Witnesses state they see him crouching or hiding and then he just disappears. Some speculate he probably was one of Cohen’s countless victims.


Not surprising this building’s basement also appears to have activity. People have heard disembodied screams, moans, and even what sounds like animals snarling.

One comedian/employee Blake Clark even saw after hours what he described as a a strong force pushing against the padlocked metal gate that encloses the front of the basement. This freaked him but he did return once more only to see a dark seven foot entity appear. He left the building immediately and he never went into the basement again. 

In the main room of the Comedy Store many employees have spotted a man in the back who they have nicknamed "Gus". It is said he is always dressed in a black suit and it is felt he probably was one of Cohen’s hit men. 

In this same area Clark saw a chair slide 20 feet across the stage floor--again he left the building quickly. At another time he saw an ashtray float above a table and then hit the wall.




The most famous ghost story told at the Comedy Store involves the comedian Sam Kinison. Kinison who was a former preacher always presented his act using a very loud, frenzied voice. This many felt stirred up the paranormal activity in the club. 

Often when he was on stage performing, strange problems occurred with the audio. Electrical problems occurred as well. As he talked into the mike strange hisses were broadcast over the room’s speakers. One witness stated that it sounded as if someone was angrily saying, “It’s him” over and over again. 

One night Kinison finally fed up with this strange activity challenged the ghost. As he finished his set he told the ghost he needed to stop playing around and that he should make an appearance. Right after he finished this statement the crowd gasped as the lights in the entire club went out and they found themselves in complete darkness.


Yet another ghost that haunts the building is that of a comedian by the name of Steve Lubetkin. Lubetkin tried unsuccessfully to organize all the comedians at the club to strike for higher wages. After his failure, Lubetkin depressed found himself banned from performing at the club. 

He went up to the top of what was then the Continental Hyatt House and jumped to his death. It is said his body landed near the entrance to the Comedy Store. Some feel a very sad presence in this area. 




The staff and managers of The Comedy Store have had the following experiences. Comedians Joey Gayner and Blake Clark both got their start at The Comedy Store, working as doormen and security men. Servers, assistants, office personnel have had encounters with the spirit people as well.

Entity of Steve Lubetkin - comedian who suicided

Steve Lubetkin is probably one of the spirits who enjoy watching the new comedians perform on stage.

Steve Lubetkin could be one of the spirits who likes to play pranks on the staff there, letting them know of his presence. Other spirits too get their chuckles at the expense of the living.

Besides the entity of Steve Lubetkin, there are least 5 spirits that hang around the building; all that originate from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, probably as a result of Mob activities. They become most active when the place is quiet, especially in the early morning hours. Though, they have been known to be active during different times of the day and evening hours as well.

Pranksters at play in the Main Showroom

While locking up one night, the doorman and security man, comedian Blake Clark saw a chair on the stage slide for 20 feet effortlessly all by itself.

Waitresses have set up the tables before a performance, and when they leave for a moment, they come back and everything is off the tables, neatly folded up and stacked.

As Comedians Joey Gayner and Blake Clark were closing the main room one night, they walked out for a moment. When they came back 10 chairs were stacked on top of each other in the middle of the room.

The doorman and security men, comedians Blake Clark and Joey Gayner, and other staff members, have had several personal experiences with both Micky Cohen's fellas, the female spirit, and the victims of Mob torture and punishment.

When Joey and Blake were both in the main stage area, Joey decided to challenge the spirits to show themselves, against the advice of Blake. They both watched an ashtray slowing rise from a table in front of them, and throw itself at Joey's head who ducked quickly; letting the ashtray hit the wall behind them.

Female Entity

A woman's voice has been heard in the show rooms, and her moans and cries are heard in the basement areas as well. She seems to enjoy her memories in the show rooms, perhaps watching the new living talent on stage as well, but also relives her pain, distress and dying moments because of her abortion.

Victim of the Mob - Entity of WW 2 Airman

One quiet afternoon, Blake was playing a video game in a room near the kitchen. He suddenly felt a presence watching him, about 3 feet behind him. Looking out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man dressed in a WW 2 brown leather bomber jacket. Turning to say something to him, Blake could see right through the man, who faded away right before his eyes.

That same afternoon, this same man in the brown leather bomber jacket, appeared in a third floor office in front of an assistant, Debbie. He was crouching in a corner, terrified. He faded away before her eyes. It seems that he may have been killed in this office, by an associate of Mickey Cohen.

Micky's Ciro's Club Enforcer, Gus

Apparently, The Comedy Store owners have an unpaid, floor security manager in spirit form. Staff members have often seen a man whom they call Gus; standing in the back of the performance room, dressed in his dress black dress suit and fedora, eying the crowd and watching the staff perform their duties.

While on the phone, talking on a business call, Comedy Store Vice-President Michael, and the employee who sits at a desk across from him, both saw a man dressed in forties attire walk between their desks, glancing at them, perhaps checking on their work habits. He disappeared as he left their office space. Just a few seconds after seeing this entity, both Michael and his employee dash through the doorway following the entity on patrol into the adjacent office. The employee there didn't see anyone living come through his office.

Three men, dressed in 1940s style suits

Appear in solid form in the back when something interesting is happening in the show rooms; perhaps wanting to put their best foot forward and fit in with the living better.

Because of the torturous experiences that people have gone through in the basement, it is thought that the basement is the heart of the building, because of all the pain, suffering and death that happened in the torture and killing room, and the abortion clinic room. The atmosphere is heavy and an oppressive energy pervades this space.

Screams, moans and cries are heard coming from the basement area.

The abortion process was done by a nurse, probably in a crude procedure that had the risk of the woman bleeding to death or dying from infection in an un-sterile environment.

The sadistic executioner did his work in a room here, where he broke knee caps and legs, before finding just the right cruel way to kill his victim who had crossed Mickey Cohen.

Nasty, male entity in the basement, with a mean, wicked aggressive attitude

Comedians/doormen/security men Joey Gaynor and Blake Clark's Terrifying Experiences with this black-hearted spirit thug:

One early morning at 3 AM, Blake and another staff member had heard a low "guttural growl" coming from the basement. Blake and another staff member bravely went down to investigate. The padlocked gate in front of the basement was bending out, like something was pushing, trying to get out.

The gate suddenly snapped back into place. But before their eyes, they saw a huge, seven foot black form now standing in front of the gate, a menacing entity that "radiated evil and malevolence". Blake and the other staff member didn't stick around to see what it would do, and flew up the stairs and out of the building.

Blake and Gaynor went down to the basement to see if it was still there. Yes indeed. It formed in a corner of a room, a big dark mass of a man with no face, with a very menacing countenance. It whizzed by them, and they ran up the stairs in record time.

In fact, Blake refused to go into the basement at all any more, ever since a piece of black cardboard fell from nowhere, hitting his hand, while he and Joey were in the basement. He turned the cardboard over, and his name was scrawled on it. It knew his name! Yikes!!



All of the spirit people like to watch the shows. Steve makes himself feel better by living the career he wanted through seeing these talented comedians entertain the audience. Spirits in residence, with the exception of the Nasty One in the basement, not only appear in front of the staff and others, but have been known to critique the performers:

One evening, while Sam Kinison was on the stage of the original showroom, Clark was next door, closing up the main showroom. As he heard Sam Kinison go through his comic routine, getting louder and louder as was his custom, Clark heard a low buzz of voices, which got louder and louder. When Sam reached his trademark scream, Clark heard the voices angrily chanting, "It's him. It's him. It's him."

The ghosts did their best to dissuade Sam from performing. They messed with the lights, and interfered with the sound system, annoying Sam. One night, Sam boldly challenged the ghosts to show themselves. The lights all went out.







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