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A radio bit with Kimmel propelled Carolla to stardom

Updated April 18, 2023 - 12:24 pm

Hosting a podcast for 14 years can be likened to climbing into a boxing ring every day.

Adam Carolla knows the hosting, and the boxing.

Carolla is a former fight coach dating to his days growing up in L.A. That vocation is how he met his unlikely, close friend Jimmy Kimmel. Their paths first intersected in 1994, when Carolla was a trainer and Kimmel a morning-FM radio personality known as Jimmy the Sports Guy.

“They were doing these morning-shows stunts, you know, where Jimmy the Sports Guy fought Michael the Maintenance Man or whatever, and they needed trainers for and all the stuff you need for a boxing match,” Carolla says. “I just volunteered. I eventually made my way to the radio station, I waited in the hall, and at some point Jimmy just came out. I didn’t even know who he was. I trained him kind of randomly, and we just immediately hit it off.”

Carolla and Kimmel are still close. They talk regularly. And Carolla is once more headlining Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club at Linq Promenade at 7:3o p.m. Thursday. Under the title “Adam Carolla & Friends,” the show has Carolla and popular Vegas stand-up John Caparulo in a sit-down chat of current events, closing with an “Adam Carolla is Unprepared” improv segment.

“It sounds like I’ll be hosting, but I’m really just going to be doing most of the talking,” Carolla says.

At the time, he met Kimmel, Carolla was knocking around L.A., trying to forge a career in radio, or TV, or any entertainment medium. Kimmel had enough pull to bring his new buddy to the radio show to attempt some laughable shtick.

“He sort of said, ‘Try something and see if you can make them laugh, and if you can do that you come back next week and try it again,’” Carolla says. “I called in a bit, and it worked well enough to get me to the next week. Before we knew it, it was just a regular bit. And then it gained popularity and really took off.”

It was an important moment, to put it mildly.

“It was the most important,” Carolla says, “because if it didn’t work the first time out of the gate, it would have been one and done.”

Carolla and Kimmel went on to co-host “The Man Show” on Comedy Central from 1999-2003, which was effectively two dudes swilling draft beer and making fun of everything. Carolla has hosted his own self-titled podcast since 2009 and holds the official Guinness Book of World Records mark as the most-downloaded podcast ever.

Carolla rolled into Kimmel’s club with his podcast when the venue opened in May 2019. But the show Thursday is not that.

“There are always great comedians in Vegas, and I know a lot of them,” Carolla says. “There’re guys that are local. There’re guys that are passing through. There’re a lot of who relocated from L.A. and live in Nevada,” Carolla says. “We’re just gonna grab the best who are in town for that night and get on stage and jam.”

Who Was Where

On the topic of things related to Kimmel, he and his longtime buddy and Vegas PR pro Jim Gentleman dined at Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District on Saturday night.

What Works In Vegas

Penn & Teller at the Rio. Still.

Periodically, we hear of discussions to move the duo’s iconic comedy-magic show from the Rio to the Strip. The duo have toyed with the idea of moving to the former Jubilee Theater at Horseshoe Las Vegas (Bally’s, not so long ago) and also Paris Theater.

But we’re confident P&T will stay at the Rio for quite some time as the hotel. The show has been a critical and box-office success for the hotel since 2001.

The Rio is a property to watch, as landlord Eric Birnbaum’s Dreamscape Companies has committed $850 million in upgrades to the property. That investment should include an overhaul of the Masquerade Tower, home to several shows. Penn & Teller currently head up a live-entertainment roster alongside the Chippendales, “Wow,” several shows at The Doumo, and the Comedy Cellar.

Also, “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” has been renewed for its 10th season. The show’s ratings have plateaued over the years, but it is not so expensive to produce, and — like its co-stars — is consistently funny and fascinating.

Going to Town

Wiseguys Comedy Club is building it second Vegas outpost, at Town Square. “Stay tuned for more stuff,” the club’s IG page informs. Efforts to wrest info from club operator Keith Stubbs have been unsuccessful.

But Wiseguys is clearly making some adventurous advancement in VegasVille. The club already has its niche venue in the Arts District, on Main Street. Just find Pauly Shore’s caricature on the building, and you’re there.

Cool Hang Alert

Frankie Scinta — also a former Rio Showroom headliner — takes up Italian American Club Showroom at 6:30 p.m. (dinner), 8 p.m. (performance) Thursday. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll partake in the meatballs. Go to iacvegas.com for intel.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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