Those of us who inhabited the Shark Club have a dim recollection of the place. As a friend once said of the club on the corner of Harmon Avenue and the Strip, “I don’t know if it was actually so much fun there, but I can tell you I was a lot more fun there.”
Its name a tribute to UNLV Runnin’ Rebel coaching legend Jerry Tarkanian, Shark Club opened in 1987 and shut down in a decade later. But the memories live on. One young man who had a lot of fun at the nightspot was Sebastian Maniscalco.
“I was in Las Vegas for the first time, came out for my friend’s brother’s bachelor party,” says Maniscalco, the fast-ascending comic headlining at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace Sunday night. “I thought it was the best place I’d ever seen. I was staying at the Tropicana, and I can’t tell you who was headlining. I really wasn’t serious about stand-up comedy or paying attention to anything entertainment business.
“I was a 19-year-old kid who was looking for the clubs, and oh, man, when I saw the Shark Club I said, ‘This is it!’ “
The Chicago native harnessed his energy and later returned to town as a young comic, working the Las Vegas club circuit, performing 14 shows a week at Riviera Comedy Club, opening for Andrew Dice Clay at the Stardust, and working the Playboy Comedy Club at the Palms.
Those gigs were the framework for his act today. Typically clad in black and using just a black stool as his stage set, Maniscalco’s set is focused on pointed commentary about his upbringing and current family. His career has taken off through his tireless road schedule, and this year Forbes magazine ranked him among the top 10 earning comedians in the country.
“Stay Hungry” is his personal motto, the title of his tour and the name of his new book.
“It has been a lot of work, always, when I would come into to Las Vegas,” “I think of playing the Colosseum compared to some of the places I’ve seen in Las Vegas, which were about to be closed when I was there. It’s amazing to me to be where I am.”
Maniscalco plans to check out Justin Timberlake’s show Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. Not just to be entertained, he says, “But I want to see how he stages what he does, how the merchandise works, all of it. It’ll be like a research-and-development trip.” And a far cry from a hang at the Shark Club.
Lace ‘em up
Aid for AIDS of Nevada’s (AFAN) 28th annual AIDS Walk is set for 8 a.m. Sunday at Town Square. Penn & Teller are once more the grand marshals and the celeb co-hosts are Scheana Shay and Chester Lockhart of “Sex Tips For a Straight Woman From a Gay Man” at Paris Las Vegas. Entertainment is furnished by Ruby Lewis of “Marilyn: The New Musical,” also at Paris; cast members from “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas; former “Absinthe” Green Fairy Melody Sweets; members of “WOW” at the Rio; and the cast of “Chippendales,” also at the Rio.
Those interested can sign up on-site at 7 a.m. or at afanlv.org. Thirty vendor booths will be set up near the start-finish line and a carnival game area will be set up for families. Last year, about 5,500 walkers raised $300,000 to support critically needed HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs.
“This year’s AIDS Walk Las Vegas is more important than ever,” AFAN Executive Director Antioco Carrillo says. “With the dissolving of the HIV/AIDS presidential advisory council, funding for HIV/AIDS research and prevention has plummeted. AIDS Walk Las Vegas is a chance for community members to come together and raise their voices to support public health, social justice, and help make Nevada AIDS-free.”
Splitting the ticket
The top PR official for Las Vegas’s longest-running professional team is rooting against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Las Vegas 51’s Media Relations Director Jim Gemma has been tweeting “Go Kings!” ever since the first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs match-up between the L.A. Kings and Golden Knights was set over the weekend.
Gemma has posted, taken down, and re-posted pro-Kings tweets this week. He says he has been a Kings fan for 30 years (he names ex-Kings great Luc Robitaille, current star Anže Kopitar and broadcast legend Bob Miller among his hockey heroes). Gemma is the one who supplied the 51s jersey that Tommy Shaw wore during the Styx/Don Felder shows at The Venetian Theater in late January and early February.
Of the upcoming series, opening Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena, Gemma says, “I hope the Kings sweep the Golden Knights!” Well, drop the puck and play ball …
Visions of Angel
What does a twisted clown, choreographed pyrotechnics and an act dubbed “The Doll House” have in common? No, these are not scenes from the Fremont Street Experience (exactly).