CRAIG GLAZER TALKS THE WEEKEND AND THE ROAD TO FAME THROUGH KANSAS CITY
TKC Note: Craig Glazer offers this insight into the local comedy game that's not just a promo but also includes some great insight into the entertainment biz in Kansas City. Check it:
Steve Kramer: A Discovery by Stanford & Sons
So, I was sitting in my office in Westport when the comedy club manager at the time, then Ron Meurrens, came up to my office and said, ‘You gotta see this kid doing Open Mic Night.’ His name was Steve Kramer. My brother Jeff and I went upstairs to the comedy club and the nearly full room, rare on an Open Mic Night, was on its feet giving twenty year old Steve Kramer a standing ovation. Steve had just done his now somewhat famous ‘McDonald’s Song’, a parody of the BareNaked Ladies tune ‘One Week’. Steve would become the first discovery of the new Stanfords after we took it over from our dad in 1994. Jeff and I had resurrected the restaurant and bar in 1990. What people don’t remember is that there were several months at the end of 1989 and the beginning of 1990 that Stanford and Sons had gone dark (as in it had closed). My father Stan had reopened the comedy club down the street but after a few years he just ran out of gas and Jeff and I took the old concept and put it back in its original location. With front page Kansas City Star support, Jeff and I revitalized comedy in the Midwest by doing something that we had not done before. Each week would be a house-hold name TV, film or comedy star each week in Westport until we made so much noise that you had to come see it.
Early big name acts included Kevin Nealon, Darrell Hammond, Victoria Jackson, Rich Hall, Jeff Richards, one night guest appearance by Adam Sandler, Tommy Chong, Pauly Shore, Earthquake, Sommore, Damon Wayans, Kevin Pollack…I think you get the picture.
However what Jeff and I and our staff are most proud of is being the only real launching pad to stardom this city has or has ever had. Steve Kramer, several years later, featured for Aries Spears, the star of Mad TV. Aries met with me and Steve and told us there was a new television series about to be cast by Warner Brothers called Hype. We sent his tape into the producers, Aries called and gave him a thumbs up, the following year, Hype went on the air starring Steve Kramer, Michael ‘Chicken’ Roof and another new guy, Frank Calliendo. Those three comedians would play Stanfords a boatload of times over the next several years and we all became good friends. As we all know Frank Calliendo went on to replace Rich Little as the number one voice guy on TV, with his own TV series, with Mad TV and with the sports show on CBS with Howie and Terry. Currently Frank has a multi-million dollar deal with ESPN for a similar show.
Michael Roof went on to co-star in both ‘XXX’ movies with Vin Diesel and Ice Cube. He also co-starred in the big budget hit picture ‘Blackhawk Down’ as well as ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ with Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville. In 2006, Michael got his own series on Spike TV called ‘Raising the Roofs’. It often co-starred Steve Kramer. Sadly, Michael could not fight back his personal demons and took his own life. Just two weeks after playing Stanfords at the Legends. Mike made his final radio appearance on 98.9 with Johnny Dare and passed away a few days later. We still badly miss him. He was thirty years old.
Kramer continued to do stand-up around the country, recently moved to the East Coast and has become a headliner in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Steve took time out over the last year to animate the Stanford & Sons Cartoon Series Pilot. Kramer also co-stars as himself in the show with me, my brothers and several comics. The cartoon was a finalist this past summer at the International Montreal Comedy and Film Festival. The show was picked up by International Creative Management in Hollywood a few weeks ago and they are trying to set it up as a tv series. You can see Steve’s show, you can see the pilot and other Kramer Inventions on hotspotbroadcasting.com.
While it’s cool to have big stars like Damon Wayans, Lewis Black and Rob Schneider at our clubs, we are even more proud to have discovered so many bright young stars who have gone on to fame. Recently, those who told their first jokes on our stage would include not only Steve, but Nikki Glaser, who know has her own show on MTV on Tuesday nights; Rob Riggle, a former Stanford’s doorman who went on to replace Calliendo on the CBS Sports Show as well as co-starring in motion pictures like the Hangover and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard; TJ Miller, star of Mash-Up and twenty movies, got his first headlining week here; and Josh Wolfe, the star of After Lately just to name a few.
When Jeff and I started in Westport with Stan we discovered a long list of household name stars of today including Eddie Griffin (waiter/busboy/open miker), Louie Anderson (open miker and emcee), Sinbad (doorman/open miker/emcee) and a name you might not recognize, but a guy whose career we surely launched as an eight hundred dollar a week headliner named Dan Whitney, better known today as Larry the Cable Guy.
There are many more, but these jumped out at me. Something we know at Stanford’s to be a fact, but even in the hundreds of articles written about the club and Kansas City we don’t hear enough of; Stanford & Sons has launched more talent to both television and film than all the other Kansas City venues of the last century put together. That bears repeating. It’s a fact, and there is no argument, this aint just some little comedy club and that’s what makes it special.
Next week, Steve Kramer goes out to L. A. to sign with Jeff Dunham’s management team and I have a feeling you will soon see this Kansas City native back on television. Come out and see him tonight, tomorrow and Sunday. You won’t be disappointed. Call (913)400-7500 for reservations.