Wiseguys | Buzz Blog

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Posted By on May 21, 2009, 2:41 AM

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The local comedy circuit has always had its ups and downs, usually depending on the clubs and whether they've been active or not. But recent years have not only surged but have blossomed into a full-fledged scene.

 --- At the front of that movement is Wiseguys. Starting out of a stripmall by the E Center, the club became a hotspot for local and national comics to make their stay, and has been the stepping stone stage for many locals to move up into the national ranks. I got a chance to chat with owner Keith Stubbs about the club and its history, as well as his thoughts on local comedy. All with some snapshots of the new Wiseguys location over at Trolley Square!

Keith Stubbs


Gavin: Hey Keith, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Keith: I was born and raised in South Carolina, one of 7 kids. Southern boy at heart.

Gavin: How did you first get involved with comedy, and who were some of your favorites growing up?

Keith: I started doing stand-up in Southern California in 1991. I met comedian Sinbad's manager at an event and she suggested I do commercial and stand-up. She helped give me the confidence to give it a try. My favorite comics then were Dennis Miller, Leno, Letterman and Don Rickles.

What would you say your career was like before you opened up Wiseguys?

Keith: I was a full time comic working the road. I was working comedy clubs, one-nighters, bars, sports bars and theaters. You name it I did it. I was working 45 or more weeks a year on the road while living in So Cal.

Where did the idea come from to start up a comedy club?

Keith: I grew tired of working the road full time. I had performed at many different types on comedy venues and decided that I wanted to run a club my way. I would always have a place to perform.

Why did you choose West Valley City as the location for the first place?

Keith: Because I could get a lease. Eight years ago no one had ever heard of Wiseguys and it was a tough sell.

What was it like getting set up, and how was that first month open?

Keith: The first month was brutal. The first couple of years were scary. I was beginning to wonder why I jumped in like I did.

Did you think it would catch on as quickly as it did, or did you expect more of an uphill climb before success?

Keith: It was an uphill climb. It is a constant challenge keeping the name 'Wiseguys" out there and to book the right comics at the right time.

What brought on the decision to open up a second place in Ogden, and then later Orem?

Keith: I live in Ogden. I love Ogden and the opportunity to have a Wiseguys on Historic 25th Street was too much to pass up. Orem, on the other hand... is a non-stop struggle.

Do you find it easier or difficult running multiple places?

Keith: It is obviously more of a challenge. The secret seems to be having good people who 'get it' working with you.

How did the decision come about to open up a new one at Trolley Square?

Keith: I have always wanted a downtown SLC location. There is nothing like the city. I had been looking around for a while and Trolley seemed like the best fit. I like older, historic buildings.

Why did you go a partnership with Poundcakes instead of doing your own thing?

Keith: I own Poundcake's and Wiseguys. There are no partners. Just me. Win or lose. I am doing my own thing. Poundcake's is the name of the restaurant downstairs and Wiseguys Trolley Square is upstairs.

Was the new construction and updates an influence in the decision, or is that just icing on the cake for the new spot?

Keith: I like the historic nature of Trolley.

How have things gone so far since opening up?

Keith: Busy on show nights and not so busy during the days.

A little local, what are your thoughts on the local comedy circuit, both good and bad?

Keith: The scene is good. Comedy is more difficult that it seems. Many people try comedy but to succeed at a level where you can support yourself is an entirely different thing.

Putting you on the spot a little, who would you say are some of the top local comics?

Keith: Comedy is very subjective. I don't want to tick off any comics. I will pass on that one. I will say that many talented comics got their start at Wiseguys.

Being a business owner, how has the local economy affected you?

Keith: The economy has hurt business no doubt. Hopefully, it will turn around soon.

How is it for you competing with venues, clubs and bars on a nightly basis?

Keith: And do you feel comedy clubs are thriving or struggling more in Utah? I really don't know how other venues are doing. I focus on my business. I have no control on what others are doing.

What can we expect from you and the clubs the rest of the year?

Keith: Bigger names, better shows.

Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Keith: Check out the continually improving website for new and exciting shows!

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