Just a year ago, if you wanted to see comedy in Las Vegas, your options were limited. There were a few headlining shows in the big hotel showrooms with permanent acts, but whenever anyone wrote us to ask where they should see great comedy in Vegas, we had little to recommend.
All that changed when New York’s Comedy Cellar opened in Vegas this summer at the Rio, and now comes the news via The Hollywood Reporter that Sin City is getting yet another major comedy club, which will be curated by Jimmy Kimmel, who has a close association with the city and in fact, grew up there. He says he’s always wanted to something in Vegas and this is the perfect something. “It’s comedy and food and cocktails — all things I’m interested in.”
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club will be created in a partnership with Caesars and is expected to open as soon as Spring of 2019 on the Vegas Strip near the Brooklyn Bowl across from Caesar’s. Kimmel told the Hollywood Reporter that it was an easy yes when Caesars approached him. And he’s not just lending his name to the club, he claims that he will be involved in every element of the club, helping to curate the lineups, and even get involved with the menus. The club will be created to be a comedy club from ground zero, Kimmel said, with a focus on making sure the comedians are happy.
“[Comedians] get stuck in these shitty condominiums in these towns, and then they’re picked up in a 1991 Datsun B210 and driven to some kind of rat hole [to perform]. I want this to be a place where the comics are staying at Caesars Palace, where they’re treated very, very well, and they want to keep coming back because the audiences are great,” Kimmel told THR. He plans to pay close attention to details like the ceiling height, backstage green room, the sound system, the way food and drinks are served, room clatter and even how comedians can watch the show and hang out when they’re not on stage.
Kimmel says the club will tie into his ABC show, they will be able to check in with video feeds to help promote their shows. Jimmy Kimmel Live doesn’t have the strongest reputation among late night shows for promoting stand up comedians- he rarely has comedians perform on his show and we’ve heard rumors that the experience for those who have done stand up on his show is not great. But it appears that his failure to put comics on his late night show might not be out of a lack of interest. In the interview with THR, he said he doesn’t like having comedians in his studio, because he feels that comedy loses something in that environment. “It’s not the same feel,” he told THR. “Everything about it is artificial. So, this feels like a great opportunity to give comedians a chance to really score.”
One thing he doesn’t plan to do and that’s sanitize his lineups. He said if he has to vet his comedians about their history, “its going to be a very empty stage.” Ultimately, he said, the audience will decide whether someone is welcomed back, stressing that comedy is democratic, so his club won’t be proactively endeavoring to add any category of comedian to his lineups to achieve diversity. “People who are good rise to the middle, and the people who aren’t good don’t make it.” When asked how he plans to make his club a safe space, he told THR that he had no idea comedy was supposed to be considered a safe space.
Catering to the comics has also been the longtime mantra of New York and Las Vegas’ Comedy Cellar, too. Cellar owner Noam Dworman recently talked about many of those same factors on Robert Kelly’s “Live From the Shed” Patreon show.
With these two new clubs in town, and the already existing comedy venues in Vegas like Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club- could Vegas become a new hub to draw stand up comedians in? It’s already the home of world-famous comedy giant Brian Regan because of the ease of traveling in and out of the city, and could create the opportunity for true comedy scene to develop.