After a decade plus of no big time comedy clubs in Kansas City, Stanford & Sons returns tonight to 37th and Broadway in the Uptown Theater Conspiracy Room. The show tips off at 8 p.m. (7:45 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday) with funny guy A. J. Finney doing the headlining honors.
“I’ve never believed in soft openings, but instead of four or five weeks to promote the opening, in this case, we’ve only had two weeks,” says Stanford’s main man Craig Glazer. “But the Kansas City Star is coming tonight to cover the opening and I think the Pitch will be coming and we’ve had really good social media so…”
And naturally, Glazer’s had his share of controversy associated with his inner city comeback.
“There’s been talk of a controversy with us coming back to midtown,” Glazer says. “You know, from when we had the dance club in Westport and the controversy (with blacks) in the 1990s. That’s always been a sore spot with some people in Westport, but we’ve never had one problem with any of our comedy clubs and we’ve been out of the dance club business since 2002.”
No sooner had Glazer signed a short term contract for the Conspiracy Room he learned of Hamburger Mary’s deal to open in the space next year.
“Well, the plan is vis-a-vis Larry (Sells), for Hamburger Mary’s to open the bar off the Uptown lobby in like the 2nd or 3rd week of December with video and sports screens and cocktails,” Glazer says. “Then in mid to late summer Hamburger Mary’s will take over the room we’re in and make it their restaurant. I would have liked to have stayed in the Conspiracy because it’s a beautiful room. I mean, I think we could have leased it early last summer – and maybe we should have – but now Larry wants to build us a full time comedy club in the Uptown Shoppes across the street and have us anchor that.
“At this point, we’ll see what happens – we don’t have a clear read on Hamburger Mary’s restaurant – but we plan to be in the Conspiracy for several months, possibly until early to mid summer. I would say that by March we’ll have a plan as to what the next step is. By that time we’ll have a read on the return of comedy to midtown. And we have the ability now to bring in some larger acts into the main Uptown Theater.
“So for now, we’ll be open on Fridays and Saturdays and maybe a couple of weekdays when it makes sense to do it.”
“We’re still at The Legends and lately it’s been really good because we’ve had some monster stars,” Glazer says. “But the Legends location has suffered with the economy and because the population out there is so thin. There is so little new housing out there and the population hasn’t grown like people thought it would. And more and more we get fewer and fewer people from Johnson County and Kansas City. They’ll come here for special events, but we’re dealing more and more with people who live in Leavenworth, Basehor, KCK, Lawrence and Western Johnson County.
“You know, in today’s modern America, people like to stay in their neighborhoods. Like a lot of people in Johnson County only go to the Plaza once or twice a year. And with the Legends in KCK, we almost have to force people in Johnson County to come out here with big names like Carlos Mencia, Tom Arnold and Josh Wolf.”
All of that said, is Glazer’s Winter Comedy Series at the Uptown an exit strategy for the Legends?
“No, I mean, we’re in our 7th year at the Legends and it’s a gorgeous comedy club and I really love the room, but it’s a handful for me,” Glazer says. “It really depends on what happens next. The big advantage for me in Midtown is you’ve got the majority of people living there who will go out at night and party. The plan at the Uptown is we’ll be there for several months and see what happens next.”