The Hungry i was a legendary San Francisco nightclub operated in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Enrico Banducci at 599 Jackson Street in the North Beach district. The Hungry i (the lower-case "i" was meant to represent "intellectual"), was instrumental in launching the careers of singer Barbra Streisand and the comedians Lenny Bruce, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, The Smothers Brothers, and Woody Allen.
The Hungry i and Banducci were also instrumental in the careers of acerbic political comic Mort Sahl, comic Bill Cosby, actor/comic Ronnie Schell, minister Malcolm Boyd, and comedian Jonathan Winters. Musicially, the Kingston Trio recorded two famous albums at the Hungry i , including the first live performance of their version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Tom Lehrer's final satirical album, That Was The Year That Was (1965), was also recorded there.
Legend has it that Streisand begged Banducci for a single night at his nightclub. Banducci went with this totally unknown singer, and the result was so good that she was held over for two months of shows, attracting nationwide acclaim.
When the comedy and folk music scene wilted in the mid-1960s with the rise of hard rock and Vietnam war protests, Banducci closed the club and sold its name to a topless club at another location on nearby Broadway. The club, Banducci and many of its performers are captured in the 1981 documentary "hungry i Reunion" produced and directed by Thomas A. Cohen.
The Hungry i was launched by Eric "Big Daddy" Nord, who sold it to Banducci in 1950.