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Marketing makes a difference in Vegas

When Las Vegas comedians get together for lunch, they must talk about really funny stuff, right? Must be like the Algonquin Round Table, or at least the Friars Club when Uncle Miltie still was around.

But Hooter’s comedian Bobby Slayton recounts a recent chat with Flamingo headliner George Wallace and veteran comic David Brenner that may be funnier to us than it was to them — and only then in a “That’s Vegas for ya” kind of way.

Slayton spotted four of those billboard-carrying flatbed trucks cruising the Strip in single file, each one with Wallace’s face. “There go four of your trucks going by. That’s kind of stupid that they’re not splitting them up,” Slayton said.

Brenner disagreed. “It’s so people will go, ‘Who’s that guy? How come he has four trucks in a row going by?’ “

Wallace confirmed. “If you have one truck, it’s just like any other truck. But four of the same thing, you take notice.”

If someone reads this and decides they need five, you’ll know why.

Slayton works Hooter’s through Dec. 7, returning Jan. 7 through March 9. He’s had nearly two years to learn why resident performers on the Strip don’t just worry about being funny and doing a good set.

They have to know how many tickets go to time-share salesmen, or how often to schmooze the hotel concierge. (Only a couple of times a year: “You don’t want to smack of desperation,” Wallace told Slayton.)

So, “The Pitbull of Comedy,” finds himself visiting concierge desks to give away his comedy album with little bags of chocolate dog poop. But he tries not to overdo it.

“It’s like, ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ in this town,” Slayton says. “When Bill Maher or Brad Garrett fly into town, their billboards go up and people go to see ’em. If Rita Rudner came to town for one weekend, she wouldn’t be worried about all this (stuff).”

But he believes that if Wanda Sykes or Rodney Carrington or any other occasional headliner decides to dig in here and try it full time, they too would hear people say, “Oh, they’re here all the time. … It’s like having sex with your wife: ‘I can do this all the time.’ “

Slayton was happy to get advice from friends such as Rudner and her promoter husband, Martin Bergman. “Martin has always had the reputation of being a marketing genius. When Rita first came to town, that was Martin & Lewis there. That was a combo. Now everybody knows now how to go to the concierge. Everybody knows now how to do this and do that.”

The comedian works on smaller margins than the big names. “I’d be happy to have 500 paid tickets every month,” he says. But for now, the chocolate dog poop is no laughing matter. “The fact that anybody is sending anybody to see my show, I know I’m doing something right.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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