When I opened Johnny B’s Comedy Club people told me I was crazy. They said a clean, non-alcoholic club would never work, let alone in Utah. That’s where they were wrong — Utah is probably one of the only places it could work. We weren’t the first comedy club in Utah and we weren’t the last, but we did give a lot of people a lot of laughs.
The first Utah comedy club I remember was Cartoons which was originally located in the Sugarhouse neighborhood in a building that has been torn down. I started my club career there at an open-mic competition. How many times have you heard that story from a comedian? Lots. Did well in the competition and kept going. An interesting side note, Utah radio personality Todd Collard of the Todd and Erin Show came to Utah to manage Cartoons.
Eventually I opened Johnny B’s and things took off. One of the things I am proudest of is the opportunity we gave Utah comedy to grow. Many comedians performed on our stage honing their acts, and some are working comedians today. Other people just got the opportunity to perform, to get up on stage and try it. I still have people come up to me to this day and tell me about their experience performing at Johnny B’s. Some of them just tried it once or twice.
One of the comedians who performed on our stage was Keith Stubbs, who went on to open Wiseguys, a Utah comedy club institution. Like Todd, Keith has also gone on to become a Utah radio personality as well. I have performed at Wiseguys many times, Keith is a good guy. Wiseguys is where today’s hopeful Utah comedians can get stage time. You can see it all on Wednesday night open-mic nights. Additionally, Wiseguys brings in known comedians from across the country.
Utah is no different than other places, people need to laugh. Laughter is the pressure-relief valve for life. It wasn’t crazy to have comedy in Utah when I was running a club and it isn’t crazy today. Utah is unique, that’s for sure, but so is every place you go, you just have to take it as it comes and try to understand it.
I enjoy performing comedy. These days I enjoy performing for private events, conventions and parties. I have been at it for over 20 years and I have seen and done a lot, but every time I grab the mic it is a new experience. People hire me to entertain, to make them forget, to just have a laugh and I am happy to do it. It makes me feel good to put a smile on someone’s face. In a world that is increasingly acrimonious, that is something.