It's The Norm 03-22-10

BobKephartMy good friend, Bob Kephart, producer of the Comedy Stop at the Sahara Hotel, called the other day and gave me a rundown on the comics for this coming week. Kephart, for those who are unfamiliar with the name, is the founder of the Comedy Stop at the Tropicana Hotel/Casino, Atlantic City, where it has been for more than 26 solid years. In 1992, Bob opened the Comedy Stop at the Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel, where the club remained, doing two shows nightly, for more than 18 years. In July 2009, the Comedy Stop moved to the Congo Room at the Sahara Hotel.

One of the major reasons the Comedy Stop has been so successful, both here in our village, and Atlantic City, is that Kephart maintains a hands-on approach to his clubs, and possesses “a gift” for being able to spot raw comedic talent when he sees it. Bob has taken such unknowns as Ray Romano, Brett Butler, Rosie O’Donnell and Drew Carey, to name just a few, and helped them develop their acts. Of course, the above mentioned stars went on to television and comedy stardom.

Over the years, Kephart’s reputation for running a tight club, and for giving up-and-coming young comedians a chance to work, has grown to such an extent that he no longer is out there searching for talent to work his clubs.

“In the beginning, it was really hard lining up good comics,” Kephart said. “Now that I’ve had clubs running very successfully, for all these years, my reputation has also grown. Now I have them knocking at my door searching me out.”

With all the performers he has lined up over the years, Bob is in the enviable position of being able to present a rotating cast of comedians, without compromising quality. The Comedy Stop is now located in the Sahara Showroom on the casino level (two weeks ago they moved from the upstairs Congo Room) with its regular 9 p.m. nightly show. Kephart continues to maintain his policy of three headline comedians every week, seven-nights a week.

michael finneyOpening Monday, March 22, and performing through March 28, will be Comic Magician, Michael Finney, Tommy Blaze and Anton Shuford. Finney earned one of the highest honors in the field of magic by the Academy of Arts, when he was named “Comedy Magician of the Year,” in ceremonies held in Hollywood, Calif. In 1986, Michael was a finalist on Star Search, and in 1987 was presented the Silver Lion’s Head Award from Siegfried & Roy for his “Comedy and Magic.” He has been on just about every television show possible, from HBO to two NBC specials hosted by John Ritter: World’s Greatest Magic” and “World’s Wildest Magic.”

Tommy BlazeTommy Blaze has been called America’s premiere relationship comic. For more than two decades, he has entertained audiences from all walks of life. Blaze has performed in such diverse arenas as television, film, comedy clubs, colleges, military bases, casinos, cruise ships and churches. You name the club, and Tommy has been there. “A funny Dr. Phil and probably more accurate,” a reviewer from the Tampa Tribune wrote.

Penn State graduate and U.S. Navy veteran, Anton Shuford, started his comedy career in 2002. After serving his time in the Navy, and trying a regular 9 to 5 job, which turned out to be negative, he decided to try his hand at comedy. Once he stepped on stage for the first time in Philadelphia’s Laff House Comedy Club, he knew was finally home. In 2009 he was the winner of Philly’s “Funniest Person” contest.

The Comedy Stop in the Sahara Showroom gets the laughs going at 9 p.m. nightly. For reservations or information, call the Sahara Box Office at (702)


My baby, “The Mint 400,” returns again this month for the third year, after a lengthy absence due to “lost interest” by various promoters. The current promoters seem to be doing a few things right, and have, according to its Web site, nearly reached its goal of 250 entries. Mel Larson and I (this writer created the off-road race, and Larson helped it grow to national prominence for more than four years) have not been asked to participate by the local promoters. I guess they figure it’s better to ignore the past and go with the future.

The same can be said about the “Off Road Hall of Fame,” in Reno Nevada. It appears to this writer, and a number of other early off-road participants, that to be recognized and voted into the “Hall,” takes kissing someone’s butt. God forbid, you ever had an argument with one of the “so called” off road dignitaries. That’s the “kiss of death!” They seem not to care about the few, real pioneers, who helped the sport grow. All they care about, in my opinion, is their personal friends getting into the “Hall.” Forget the actual dreamers, let’s get this guy or that person (they were nice people or good racers, or officials, etc.) inducted into the “Hall.” Certain off-road officials (supposedly big wheels in the sport today) do not want to have a few of the real “dreamers” inducted.  As for me, I’ve received plenty of recognition from around the world, and am constantly being interviewed, as is Larson, about the Mint 400. And, just for the record, I hadn’t even heard of the “Hall” until a couple of years ago, when one of my daughters told me about it. It’s not that we, Mel and myself, wouldn’t accept an invitation from the “Hall,” but neither of us, honestly, ever expects to get a phone call from them. Enough said!

FrankSinatra, JrFrank Sinatra, Jr.
will be at the Suncoast Hotel/Casino the weekend of April 10-11. The 20-piece band will be conducted by Terry Woodson, with Junior, singing a ton of his father’s hits. We, personally, enjoy seeing the youngster (he’s 66) perform those great arrangements. Tickets begin at $29.95 plus tax. Call (702) 636-7075 for more information.

Rooney-MeDid you get a chance to watch the “Red Carpet” arrivals on TV, during the build-up to the Oscars a couple of weeks ago? I couldn’t believe what I saw happen. One of the great stars of the past (I guess I’m on a historic trip this week), Mickey Rooney was totally ignored by the interviewers. What a shame! Not only is he one of the oldest living stars (he is 89-years young, and has been a working performer since he was 2-years old), but was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 1983, for his 50 years in movies. Mickey was nominated four times for an Academy Award; has had four Emmy nominations with one win; two Golden Globe awards and has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I guess it just doesn’t pay to get old?

Well, gang, enough stirring of the pot this week. I’m outa here!



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