Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

Comedy Twitter Takes Shots At The Guns And Drugs Found At Hollywood's Abandoned iO West Theater

People being detained by LAPD in an early morning raid of the building that used to house the iO West comedy theater, on Sept. 12, 2018. (Photo via NBC L.A.)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

By Mike Roe & Elizabeth Muñoz

Hollywood's iO West comedy theater was supposed to be vacant since it was shut down earlier this year, but more than 60 people were detained in its former space on Wednesday during an early morning raid by Los Angeles police.

It turns out the abandoned site in the Palmer Building on Hollywood Boulevard had been under investigation for months for possible drug and gun sales.

There were a lot of mixed feelings when iO -- an offshoot of Chicago's iO (formerly the ImprovOlympic) -- closed down. Some theater members pointed fingers at poor management from Chicago, with particular focus on iO head honcho Charna Halpern. Perhaps not surprising, then, that a number of former students and performers took to social media about the news -- and ran with it:

Support for LAist comes from

The building and the area around it are known for criminal activity, according to LAPD Detective Meghan Aguilar.

"Not everyone there was involved in criminal activity to the extent of selling or using drugs," Aguilar said. "I'm sure that a good number of them there were either there because they were seeking shelter for the night or maybe unaware of what was actually happening."

Support for LAist comes from

Beyond drugs, a shotgun and a rifle were also confiscated -- it's also suspected of being home to gun sales, according to CBS 2. Other items confiscated from the site included an English bulldog and mattresses.

"Everybody in there is just trying to be in Hollywood, making a living, doing what they love," Ramsey Barton told CBS 2. "That's why I'm in there, my fiance, he's a rapper and he makes music."

Most of the people detained have since been released, but the investigation into what was actually happening in the post-comedy iO West continues.

The building's owner is boarding up the site to keep anyone from getting back inside. Police said the building's owner could be held liable for what happened inside, according to CBS 2.

An ongoing parody account, "iO West dude trapped in Loft," has been playing out the idea that someone was left in the building's Loft theater when it was shut down. The anonymous person behind that account reassured his followers that, yes, he is still trapped in the Loft and was not found in this raid:

You made it! Congrats, you read the entire story, you gorgeous human. This story was made possible by generous people like you. Independent, local journalism costs $$$$$. And now that LAist is part of KPCC, we rely on that support. So if you aren't already, be one of us! Help us help you live your best life in Southern California. Donate now.