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Brave New Workshop founder Dudley Riggs has died

Riggs first opened Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis in 1958.

Dudley Riggs, founder of the Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, passed away on Tuesday. He was 88.

Brave New Workshop owners John Sweeney and Jenni Lilledahl announced Riggs’ death in a statement. Riggs founded the theater in 1958, and it has now become the longest-running satirical comedy theater in the country.

Riggs produced satirical and improvisational shows for 39 years before Sweeney and Lilledahl bought the theater in 1997.

“A brave, bold beginning is part of any great satirical piece, and Dudley’s life fearlessly shot out of a circus cannon like no one else on our planet. We have had the honor or knowing Dudley for the past 28 years and have been caretakers of his legacy for the past 22, and have been forever altered by his amazing story, genius, and humility,” Sweeney and Lilledahl wrote in a statement.

Riggs was born in Arkansas in 1932 to a circus family. Starting as a toddler, Riggs performed in his family’s circus before he eventually made his way to Minneapolis. There, he opened Dudley Riggs Coffee House, which featured the first espresso machine west of the Mississippi River.

Riggs hosted performances at the coffee shop, which eventually led to the conception of Brave New Workshop. Riggs also documented his time in the circus and entertainment world in his 2017 memoir, “Flying Funny: My Life Without a Net.”

Brave New Workshop is currently located in Minneapolis’ Theater District at 824 Hennepin Ave. Riggs’ family and friends are currently planning a memorial for later this year, according to the statement from Sweeney and Lilledahl.

“No other person or place on our planet can claim this comedic endowment. On behalf of everyone who has ever passed through the Brave New Workshop doors, we love you Dudley. And above all, we thank you!” the statement read. 

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