Glazer: How the Comedy Club Biz Works & Why The Comics Hate Me

It’s been clear to me for years the young comics you promote at your local club will end up hating your guts.

Not always, but usually.

We started doing comedy at Stanford’s in 1980. Stanfords in Westport opened in 1975, but my brother Jeff and I didn’t start doing comedy until later. David Naster came to us with an idea of doing it on a regular basis. I’d been to LA and at the Comedy Store. Originally I thought my father Stan and I would perform as well.

So we started it on Sunday nights in our waiting area bar called THE TREE HOUSE.

Then we added an open mic night on Mondays to find new young and local comics. We did too. From Kansas City’s Sinbad to Louie Anderson. Later even Lewis Black and tons more. Why? They had nowhere else to play. There were few clubs back then and those who had them, mostly LA, New York and Chicago, wanted name stars like Jimmie Walker to headline. Not unknowns. It’s hard to get a crowd to come see someone they never heard of before.

As time marched on we established a brand nationally, so we could use many of our local guys to headline, feature or open shows. One out of maybe 50 became pros and one out of a thousand became stars, got a TV show or movie work. Like Eddie Griffin, a waiter/busboy that started at Stanford’s. HOWEVER, Eddie moved to LA where he got his big break, not here.

In those days, back in the 80’s, we had scouts come to the club from TV shows like  Star Search, who found Sinbad and Naster. Later even The Tonight Show and big agencies like William Morris. Those days are gone. The comics now have to move to LA at some point, maybe New York. Those are the feeder cities. Hollywood is lazy and never wants to travel.

I had to call every agent I knew out there to get ONE to come see Dan Whitney. You know him as Larry The Cable Guy. My current agent Matt Blake came, Larry did a show in LA and the rest is history.

Like many of the guys who went on to big careers, they soon forget you for the most part.

They don’t want to be reminded of "how it all began." And they only want to do theaters or TV/film, not a comedy club. They feel that’s a step down. Even if it’s a rare appearance.

But not everyone.

This weekend we have Tommy Chong from Cheech and Chong. He’s a good pal and is doing this as a favor. Lewis Black did our opening at Legends in 2007 for a fraction of his going rate. Neither of these guys do clubs now. Recently we had Carlos Mencia. That’s what sets us apart. We have long term relationships with big name people. Even then, it’s tough to get them in because there’s not much in it for them.

So I understand why our local guys kinda end up not liking me much.

I CAN’T make them stars. They have to start here and leave the nest. It’s not easy to move to LA or New York, when you don’t know anybody and have no money. Sure, I’ll call agents for them, send tapes or email them clips.

I did that for my pal Steve Kramer, who got a TV series in 2000 called Hype on the WB . But that’s rare. Just getting an agent is very hard now, one that matters.

There are more comics out there now than ever. More TV shows than ever, due to Reality TV and 800 channels. Yes. we still do open mic night and it’s a big draw. I use the top guys from that for MC work and later feature work. In some rare occasions even a headline night or two.

But in the end, they have to go create their own careers outside of KC.

Let’s face it, this is not a city on the radar of Hollywood much. So getting lots of laughs here when you are unknown is just a way to tell the comic, it’s ttime to spread your wings and fly to LA. It takes years to make it, an average of 8 to just be a name headliner.

Money is just OK then at $1,000 to $2,000 a week, but you are traveling all over hell and back every week. If you can get the work. It takes a national anchor to make the big money. Jim Jeffries did it recently with two HBO specials, but Jim still needs movies or TV to hit a long homer.

So in the end, the guys you help the most, dislike you the most because they call for work and don’t understand why you have booked, say, Mo Mandel instead of them. "Hey we know each other, Glazer."

And we do. But it’s a business and times are much different now.

The local media does not like putting on unknowns. I have done that with guys like Chris Porter, who immediately turned on us. People look out for their own ass, not yours.

Dig this, I have advanced and loaned (almost never get it back) over $100,000 to comics over the years.

Usually because they’re broke. The local guys. Then the second you can’t help them, you’re an asshole who never paid enough, drives an expensive car, lives better than they do and on and on. You’re a real jerk.

Hey we are the ones who gave them shot, after shot, after shot. This is how it is everywhere, not just in KC. The club owners in the end are the bad guys because we "can’t make you famous" only you can do that for YOU.

I noticed many of our past comics comment and many to the negative. Many have stories of not getting paid enough or not getting enough work and so on. All that said, why do they want to still work for us? Stanford’s is a top, top name in this business. And maybe, just maybe, No 1 overall.

We enjoy finding new talent. We just can’t make everyone a star. I wish we could.

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14 Responses to Glazer: How the Comedy Club Biz Works & Why The Comics Hate Me

  1. Jelis Haydr says:

    Not comedy stuff I want more STING ADVENTURES!
    Craig comedy is interesting and all but will u please tell us the one about how you rode an elefant with vanna white into Toronto to sting a dental gas bootlegger for 27k (a lot in my day) and how you ran into the fuzz and oh great they tried to bust you but you had a gun battle in the canadian desert where Muhammad Ali grabbed the bullet aimed at your throat IN MID AIR and saved your life to go on to open a great comedy club, man I luv that one give me the long version here on kcconfidential PRDY PLZ!

  2. harley says:

    glaze…know the feeling
    you help someone out. You give them a break. Give them some direction and then
    they fuck you. they lie…they steal…they cheat. They have no idea what its like to run and
    operate a business. They don’t understand the 24/7 problems.
    And because of owning the business…they believ e you “owe” them something. You
    owe them more of everything. And then when they give you the sad story…or the
    “i’ll do this and this and this” crap. When you go against your better judgement and you try
    to help someone…not just with money but with helping them become successful…..they always
    come back to stick it up your a$$…they usually complain that you didn’t do enough…that they’re
    entitled to something.
    I know the feeling. Having run 3 companies I’ve learned the hard way. Be too nice and
    it comes back to haunt you. Help someone and eventually they will come back to fuck you.
    I had some people taking care of my house. Paid them well. Gave the kids money…gave the
    father my old suits (not really old but ones i no longer wore)…gave bonuses…i literally
    adopted this family….then eventaully they screwed me over….left me…did some work that
    was bad and never corrected it. I learned my lesson.
    On the other hand there are those who remember who gave them help…who lifted them…
    who helped them out when they were down…they are few and far between…but they
    still exist.
    Todays world is all about the money. give me..give me…give me. You mentioned some guys who
    still appreciate what you did for them early on. But again….you can count them on one hand.
    But I haven’t changed . Both of us will get burned again. We have big hearts and fall for the
    sad story.
    Those people have the same line of bullshit …”what have you done for me lately”…
    We’ll both get burned again. It comes with the territory. Those comics you helped out will come
    back to raise thier disgusting lies. It happens to everyone who owns and runs a company.
    But we choose to decide our own business destiny…it comes with the territory.

  3. Hines Schecklegruberetiz says:

    Names are meaningless
    Most everybody hates you glazer, mainly because you are unable to speak, or write, a single sentance about ANY topic without name dropping. It is as if you are so insecure with yourself that you the the need to name drop to validate whatever you are saying. If your opinion and words can not stand on their own, without name dropping, maybe your words are not very meaningful.

    Let he words stand on their own.

  4. Skeptic says:

    THE IMPROV ROCKS IT!
    Poor Craigy. Kevin Pollack – Charlie Murphy – Dave Koechner; All playing the Improv. HELL YEAH!

  5. chuck says:

    So Larry the Cable Guy and some of the others
    won’t even take a phone call?

    Whats the most ya gotta pay for talent for a one night show?

    What is the saddest story?

    Interesting stuff.

  6. Westport Pal says:

    Imporv went Bust Again
    The Improv for the second time, went bust. Its not secret the new one closes this fall, again. Stanfords is the Rolls Royce of comedy. Sorry to remind the “we hate glazer” bunch. Hey the guy is the best at it, simple as that gents. Read it and weep.

  7. Rick says:

    LOAN ME $$$
    Craig u can loan me money and I also won’t pay it back…but at least it will stay locally.

  8. bschloz says:

    Nice Post Glaze
    Keep up the good work. Would love to see you guys come back to Overland Park. I saw Cable man over at Hooters and about fainted from laughing so hard. Get R Done.

  9. Dog says:

    Glazer Thank You For Stanfords and Sons Really
    With all the shit you take, man you have entertained so many thousands, with introducing to our city so many great comics and actors. Thank you and your family, really. I love it.

  10. newbaum turk says:

    Craig, bring Naster to town. It has been too long. Also bring in “Dr. Dirty” John Valby. The guy is a legend and has never been here that I know of.

  11. Tracy says:

    When we have the party with you and Harley,
    let’s have flowerpot bread.

    I enjoyed this story. Where is Naster nowadays–he is a great talent and fun to work with. We made a commercial for NutriSystem ala Chorus Line. Had to do a ton of extra takes because Naster kept cracking up the dancers…I have several of his books on humor, I know he was working the business circuit.

  12. Casey says:

    My Stanford’s Memory
    I remember seeing David Cross at Stanford’s in Westport. He was booked the week after 9/11, and the guy wasn’t afraid to pull out all of his jokes about everything that was making us all so nervous and skeptical. If Stanford’s wasn’t around – and let’s face it, many comedy clubs dies after the 80’s – we wouldn’t have been able to have that experience in KC, cramped and crammed into that space, forced to confront what we felt about one of our nation’s darkest hours. Comedy is so important, especially when society is confused. I’m not sure why Craig loves to bait the haters so much, but that’s how it works. I hear as many stories about how the club was run badly as stories about how it was run well, but hey, them’s the breaks, if you want to do it your way folks, get some money together and do it.

  13. Craig Glazer says:

    Taking On The Haters
    Well it comes with the territory. In truth, almost none of them know me really. I have nothing to them at all. My crime era was really over in 1983, the 2001 indictment was just to get me out of the mayors race, which I may have won, my dad replaced me and lost only by a few percentage points to Kay in the first election he ran in. When you stand out and dare to be unfiltered in the media, you bring out the angry folks. All those who do this suffer the same attacks. 90% of what is said about me or my life is untrue, but nothing I can do about it. The more one gets done the more they hate on you. Just the way it is. Dare is popular and well liked mostly, but if he entered the website or other media world with opinion they would jump him as well. He doesn’t do that.

    As far as Stnafords hey its an icon in the enterainment world one of the very few KC has ever had, I know the jazz district of the 30′ and 40’s, well it only launched a couple people, but it was a big deal back at that time. Now forgotten sadly, most Americans don’t associate us with the jazz movement, they think New Orleans not KC. Through the good days and bad we survived and well, that ain’t easy in any business, especially live entertainment. So I’d call it a win, yeah.

  14. Craig Glazer says:

    Harley Made Some Good Comments On This
    Harley, who has owned businesses knows all this stuff. Like my pal Aaron Binder used to tell me, “Craig you loan or give money to all these people, they don’t really appreciate it, they resent you for having money and them not. When you say NO to them, they will hate you and never speak to you again, they won’t remember the 99 times you helped them, just the one time you said NO, try it you’ll see.” I did with a childhood pal who I had loaned or given like 20 grand over his life, he was always down and out, always, I always picked up the restaurant tab, the hotel, the whole deal and loaned him dough almost weekly. When I said no to him, he didn’t come to my wedding and didn’t call me for like four years. Almost none, in fact none of the people I helped paid me back anything, and today have no real memory of my helping them, almost none. I speak to maybe a couple of them today. Thats the way it is, I still help some people but its the same tale. I guess I always think, “there by the grace of God goes me” when people need help. I try. As you can see on this site not many jump in to take my back, they just don’t care, they feel “he’s rich, he’s doing great, why should I care?” Kinda sad,but true. I’m over it all now. But Harley is right, most people don’t like the hand that feeds them. They want to be the hand.

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