The Comedy Stop, a stand-up comedy fixture on the Strip and locals favorite since 1990, will close on Sunday at the Tropicana.
Tropicana spokeswoman Brittany Markarian says management is “back and forth in negotiations” with comedian Bobby Slayton in a deal to take over the club and operate it, but that a contract has not been signed.
The Trop also is saying goodbye to its long-running revue “Folies Bergere” on March 28, but the circumstances are different. “Folies” was the rare example of a Las Vegas show still produced directly by its host, with the performers on the payroll of the financially troubled casino. Closing “Folies” allows the Trop to become a landlord collecting rent from an outside producer of a still-unannounced replacement.
The Comedy Stop already was a leased operation, and the switch seems to be more a matter of trading one operator for another. Slayton wrapped up a two-year run at Hooter’s last weekend.
The Comedy Stop is run by Bob Kephart, who also has a club with the same name at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Tropicana officials would not say whose decision it was to close.
The club had a long-running two-for-one “locals appreciation” night on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and was a frequent winner in the Comedy Club category of the Review-Journal’s Best of Las Vegas poll.
For a little blast from the past, here’s part of a column by former entertainment writer Michael Paskevich noting the club’s first anniversary in May 1991:
They’re still laughing over at the Tropicana Hotel.
When Bob Kephart opened his Comedy Stop nightclub inside the resort a year ago this week, there were those who reasoned that the smiles might be short-lived.
After all, comedy maven Mitzi Shore was in the midst of moving her Comedy Store to its third Vegas hotel within a year; the once-thriving local outlet remains homeless today.
Comic Rodney Dangerfield, whose name if not presence is now linked to a club inside the El Rancho Hotel, had watched his first "Rodney’s Place" go belly-up at the Tropicana in 1989.
An uncertain market potential was further complicated by the fact that two existing Strip comedy outlets, Budd Friedman’s Improv at the Riviera and Bally’s Catch A Rising Star, seemed to have a stranglehold on booking bright new comics.
"There aren’t that many places that open in Las Vegas and are around for a year; the mortality rate is pretty high," says club owner Kephart, whose first Comedy Stop in Atlantic City is entering its eighth year.
So we’re pretty pumped," he adds. "We had a great first year."