George Wallace was among the first Strip headliners to work directly with ticket brokers.
The process nearly broke him.
“I was performing an hour or so of comedy every night, but nobody was seeing all the work I had to do to get to that point,” says Wallace, headlining Friday, Saturday and Sunday at South Point Showroom. “Dealing with the ticket brokers, the concierges, walking the streets to sell tickets to my show, was taking 10 hours a day. I just got tired of all the work I had to do.”
Wallace spent 10 years at Flamingo Las Vegas, beating the pavement, hawking tickets and telling jokes, before closing the show three years ago. But just before bowing out, Wallace won a bundle, $1.3 million, in a court settlement after a fall during a corporate show at Bellagio.
But even outside of that ruling, Wallace had grown weary of the time and energy spent on “four-walling,” or leasing, the showroom at Flamingo. The concept is now familiar: Rent the room from the hotel and go for broke. And, also, brokers.
Wallace was among the earliest performers to make money in this business paradigm, but he’s no fan today.
“I had to see every concierge in every hotel in Las Vegas, and also Henderson and Summerlin,” he said. “I actually liked the people and they liked me, because I had a good show, but I had to make multiple visits every year.” Wallace was also adept at making deals with time-share properties, which offered tickets to his show for those who sit through pitches for these residences.
“Tahiti Village, the Grandview (at South Point), I talked to every one of them,” Wallace says. “I had a good deal, especially back in 2006-2008, when it was easier to make money as a performer.”
Wallace says he won’t consider a residency in Las Vegas, or anywhere, unless he’s salaried. He says he’s been in talks in town with Caesars Entertainment and Westgate Las Vegas, but nothing has transpired.
The Westgate conversations would be ironic, as the hotel’s comedy headliner, Vinnie Favorito, performed for years at the Flamingo’s Bugsy’s Cabaret, across from Wallace’s show in the showroom. Wallace said the signing of Favorito seriously cut into his business; today, the Flamingo showroom (renamed Donny & Marie Showroom) has no regular comedy headliner.
And Wallace is more likely to seek a residency outside Las Vegas, musing optimistically about MGM Resorts’ National Harbor near Washington, D.C. and Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s hotel-casino in New Orleans. Neither has enlisted a resident comic.
But until something breaks, Wallace will continue to crank out material – including some new jokes specifically about Las Vegas.
“We’re a 24-hour town, and we have 24 Hour Fitness workout centers,” he says. “They’re open 6 a.m. to midnight. Not 24 hours.” And, “Just tell people to come to the show — I’ve got free parking for them.” Wallace, of course, has already paid the price.
Tofte hits 200
Veteran Las Vegas radio personality Jim Tofte has amassed an impressive run as host of the “Fake Show’ podcast. Paul Sorvino is the guest in the show to post Thursday. Sorvino told Tofte that before “Goodfellas” was released, he thought it would be a “terrible film,” and that his performance wasn’t very good. Tofte has also interviewed rock great Carly Simon, the daughter (lest we forget) of Richard L. Simon, co-founder of Simon & Schuster) and Andrea Louise Simon.
Simon told Tofte her family’s dinner guests included Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jackie Robinson. Her hit song “Anticipation” was written while she was waiting for Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) to come over for a first date.
Aside from the podcast, Tofte hosts a Sunday morning interview show here in town KJUL 104.7-FM and KOOL 102-FM.