The Dawn of a New Ice Age

Pasadena's — and in fact, America’s — oldest comedy club announces February relaunch
Published on Sep 24, 2021

The Ice House Comedy Club via Facebook

Nearly 500 days after closing its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pasadena’s Ice House Comedy Club announced Thursday that it will be launching a major comeback in February. A tweet from the club’s official Twitter account, featuring an animated GIF of the club’s iconic polar bear dancing, confirmed that it will host a grand reopening following a year of renovations.

“The Ice House is proud to announce that after a year of renovations, we will be having a GRAND REOPENING in February to unveil all the work we have done to add a little ‘modern flavor’ to this historic comedy club,” read the tweet. “Get ready because The Ice House is coming back with a vengeance.”

The tweet was the club’s second this week, following a Tuesday announcement that noted the club had “something BIG” in the works and that “Covid really threw us for a wrench. The club’s last live performance with an audience was held on March 14, 2020, although it hosted a live taping of the comedy podcast “Kill Tony” without an audience two nights later.

The club’s return will finally showcase the results of big improvements promised by Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Johnny Buss, who bought the club in November 2019. The club, which has played host to more tapings of comedy albums than any other venue in history due to its stellar acoustics, has a 200-seat main room and a 75-seat second stage.

Buss took the keys from longtime former owner Bob Fisher, who purchased the club in 1978 and weighed several offers during a two-year sales period. Fisher chose Buss after seven months of negotiations because he was convinced that he loved comedy and would preserve the club’s historic legacy. Fisher also retained ownership of the building that houses the club.

In making the deal, Fisher had arranged for his 43-person staff to keep their jobs under the new ownership. However, the pandemic and governmental restrictions on public spaces forced the club’s abrupt closure in March 2020.

The Ice House opened in 1960 as a folk-music club, occasionally including comedians in the show lineups. Pat Paulsen, a TV comic who became famous on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and ran as a satirical presidential candidate in 1968 and 1996, was the first comic to perform there.

The club was then co-owned by Bob Stane, who currently owns Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena. The original owners were bought out by Fisher and a pair of other investors in 1978, changing the club’s format to full-time standup comedy.

Since then, the club has played host to hundreds of famous comedians, including Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, and Jerry Seinfeld. More than 50 live albums have been recorded at the club, including two by Tomlin.—

For updates on the return of the club, located at 24 N. Mentor Ave., visit

Make a Comment

  • (not be published)