Comedyschools History

ComedySchools History


Tony Vicich began directing plays in the nascent Los Angeles equity waiver scene in the late 1970’s Directing “The Indian Wants the Bronx” at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. He also wrote and directed “The Highway” which starred David Della Rocca. David later went on to star in the legendary cult hit Boon Dock Saints. This work led Tony to begin teaching acting workshops for small groups on individuals appearing in shows he was producing or directing.

Later as he turned to comedy he began writing, editing, and serving as a sounding board for comic friends for their tv appearances. Some of those friends included Ritch Shydner, Rich Jenni, and Bill Hicks. Upon buying Jokers Comedy Club in the mid 90’s Tony began his first workshop for local comics in the Midwest. Returning to theatrical pursuits in the early 2000’s Tony once again began to find himself teaching acting and directing theater. He produced Roy’s Coffee Shop at the Space Theater; here the worlds of theater and comedy converged for him when he met Alex Sole. Alex had starred in American History X. Tony Kaye the director of American History X hired Tony Vicich to teach Alex Sole stand-up comedy for a film project they were developing. Though the film has not been produced to date, it showed Tony how to merge what he had learned as a scholarship student with Lee Strasberg (Lee starred as Hymen Roth in The God Father 2) and his years as a stand-up comic.

In 2001 Tony was recruited to join Greg Dean and Kurt Mathews to expand comedy schools across the nation. This led to comedy workshops in San Diego, New Mexico, and in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Tempe Improv. Tony also helped set up and establish a workshop in Oklahoma City taught by Bill Parker, Albuquerque New Mexico taught by Eddie Tafoya, (author of Legacy of the Wisecrack) and Hermosa Beach California, taught by Ritch Shydner. Tony, at Greg’s request created a one day seminar using his experience as a club owner, booker, tv producer and stand-up comic to help new comics in Los Angeles better understand the business side of stand-up comedy. As more of Tony’s life and business were pulled to Arizona, he turned this seminar over to Greg and his wife comedian Gayla Johnson.

In 2004 Tony once again became totally independent leaving the Tempe Improv and turning the franchise portion of the workshops over to Greg Dean to devote more time to his new theater in Scottsdale Arizona, Entertainment Alley. There Tony continued to run the largest individual stand-up comedy workshop in the nation, while also producing sketch comedy, hosting theater projects, and improv troupes. During this time the work truly began to take shape. Former students began to make TV appearances on shows like “Greys Anatomy,” “Bones,” and reality shows. Josh Mcdermitt appeared on TV Lands “Retired at 35,” and now stars on AMC’S “The Walking Dead.” There were many stand up successes: Shaun Latham, “Stand Up Revolution.” Chris Bennett “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Josh McDermitt, “ Last Comic Standing.” Mark Fry ,“Last Comic Standing” and “Conan.”

Today Tony runs his stand-up comedy workshops at The Tempe Center for the Arts. The Seventy million dollar facility hosts three theater spaces and is one of the most dynamic and creatively focused venues in the nation. He also produces comedy shows there Friday nights, offering an atmosphere totally unique for stand-up comedy.

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