Search for Tempe Improv owner enters 3rd week

TEMPE, AZ - The owner of an Arizona comedy club that recently shut its doors has not been seen for more than two weeks.

The wife of Mark Anderson, who owned Tempe Improv near the Arizona State University campus, reported him missing May 15 in Oklahoma City, authorities said. He is 60 years old and has homes in both Arizona and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City police detectives are still investigating Anderson's disappearance, said police spokesman Dexter Nelson.

He declined to discuss any leads and said that detectives in any missing persons case must investigate whether the individual left willfully or if something of a criminal nature occurred. Investigators are exploring every possible avenue, he said.

Given Anderson owns more clubs in other states beyond the now-shuttered venue in Tempe, police will have several places to check.

"With him having the assets he has, he should have a lot of different trails he can leave. If he's using cash, that could be difficult," Nelson said.

Anderson was last seen at his home in Oklahoma City on May 13, according to a police report. His wife, Holly, told officers he was going to Dallas to consult with a lawyer.

In the report, Holly Anderson says her husband was under a lot of business-related stress. She says Anderson had also been acting strangely, saying people were after him.

Anderson has a history of mental illness and delusions that he would discuss at times, according to Tony Vicich, who ran comedy workshops at the Tempe Improv with Anderson. He said Anderson was hospitalized for a number of years but seemed to have things under control. Yet, as a club owner, Anderson had a solid reputation when it came to doing business.

"In our business, you never had to worry about the count at the end of the night with Mark Anderson," Vicich said. "He was honest to a fault in a business where decimal points seem to float around on occasion."

The Tempe Improv had its last stand-up comedy show Saturday after 23 years. Anderson had told other media outlets the club had lost virtually all its bookings in recent months after another club opened in downtown Phoenix last year. While Anderson spoke of renovating and re-opening the 500-seat venue, friends and colleagues said the closure upset the normally optimistic club owner.

"No matter what the situation, he'd go `well here's the good news," Vicich said. "But it was taking a toll on him that the industry that he kind of helped create seemed to be turning on him."

Anderson's family has also hired their own private investigator. Thomas Martin, who heads an investigative agency in Newport Beach, Calif., said his staff has so far received about seven credible tips of sightings of Anderson. According to Martin, they have confirmed that Anderson has been to places in California, Arizona and Texas. He said Anderson has not been using his cellphone and there have been no signs of any credit card or bank account activity.

"I think he's a smart guy (but) I don't think he's street smart and I don't know how long he can keep on going," Martin said.

Vicich said he is worried Anderson could be vulnerable to all sorts of danger, especially if he is having mental struggles.

"We have no idea what city's he's in. Is he in Phoenix? Is he in Oklahoma? There's very little that we can do except for hope," Vicich said.

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