Culture News

Tempe Improv Owner Reported Missing

Just days before the Tempe Improv is set to disappear from the Valley's comedy scene, the club's longtime owner has gone missing.

Mark Anderson, who has run the club for more than 23 years, reportedly has been missing for the past two weeks. News broke within the past 24 hours that the 60-year-old Oklahoma City resident, who also owns a second Improv location in Washington, D.C., hasn't been seen since May 15.

Anderson reportedly was last spotted in San Diego at that time driving a silver 2011 Dodge Durango. His wife reported him missing on May 12, three days before he was last seen. There also have been possible unconfirmed sightings of Anderson in Las Vegas and Dallas.

Thomas Martin, an California-based private investigator who is searching for Anderson, says the comedy club owner's credit cards last were used on May 11. The Oklahoma Police Department also is investigating the disappearance.

Per the P.I., Anderson's disappearance may be linked to an undisclosed mental illness or breakdown, which may have brought about by the impending closure of the Tempe Improv.

Earlier this month, Anderson announced the Improv's closure on June 1 due to increased competition from newer comedy club Stand Up Live. Employees at the Improv have told reporters that Anderson was under "a great deal of stress" around the time of the announcement.

Anderson's disappearance adds a melancholic aura to the Improv's closure this week. While word spread about Anderson's disappearance this past weekend, the club hosted its final comedy showcases, including performances by comics Arden Myrin and Steve Hytner.

Anderson first opened the Tempe Improv in 1988 and helped put the club on the comedy map by featuring a "who's who" of yukksters over the decades.

Numerous comedy superstars who were regulars at the Improv, including Kevin Hart and Kevin Nealon, have commented about the owner's disappearance via Twitter.

"Mark Anderson from the Improv is missing! Please help! He has a wife & 2 yr old..my prayers are with you," Hart tweeted yesterday.

Anyone with information on Anderson's whereabouts is asked to contact the Oklahoma City Police Department at (405) 297-1129 or Thomas Martin at (800) 577-1080.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.