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Plaza’s pandemic reset: Headlining comics

Plaza Showroom is still trying to chisel out an identity. It’s not a mob haunt, proven by the short run of “A Mob Story.” It’s not home to a homegrown residencies, as “The Scintas” moved out to make room for the mobsters.

Over the past decade, homegrown productions (“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”) and variety shows (“One Epic Night”) have checked in and out of the classic showroom.

These days, Plaza is exclusively a home to stand-up comedy, with comic and actor Nick Di Paolo reopening the venue Nov. 20-21. Comic actor Kevin Farley, younger brother of the late Chris Farley, is booked Nov. 4-5. Over time, expect the return of such established headliners as Tom Green, late of Bally’s and before that Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel; and Doug Stanhope, who consistently and quickly sells out the room. But Stanhope is not taking the stage for the foreseeable future, as a smoker who considers himself a high risk to catch COVID.

The Plaza’s headlining shows are under “The Comedy Works” umbrella, but it is a shift in focus. The series opened last year as a traditional lineup of touring club comics, with occasional headliners (with Di Paolo, Green and Lisa Lampanelli booked in the fall and Stanhope taking over New Year’s Eve). The big names sold better than the club comics in “The Comedy Works” lineup.

“We found that comedians with a dedicated following did very well, and those who didn’t have that following — we couldn’t sell tickets,” Plaza owner Johnathan Jossel says. “Certain comics do well at the Plaza. We’re not looking to sell to 50-60 people for a cheap, quick night out and two drinks. We want people to come in, have dinner and buy a ticket to see Nick or Tom in our showroom.”

Tickets run between $20-$50 for Plaza’s headliners.

Jossel is opening the room only on alternating weekends. Plaza Showroom was renovated for “A Mob Story,” and will be set up to seat 250 socially distant for comedy. Jossel has ideas to further develop the room as an entertainment destination.

“I’d love to open a supper club,” the owner says. “That is for down the line, but everyone who has been in the room loves it. It’s classic Vegas.”

Resorts World’s A list

Celine Dion’s name has again surfaced as the lead headliner at the The Theatre at Resorts World, with some informed intel indicating she has actually signed to perform at the venue. Other familiar names are circulating as potential headliners, including Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry (who reportedly visited the site this month). Resorts World President Scott Sibella responded Saturday to these unconfirmed reports by saying only, “We are in talks with some A-plus artists, but not at liberty to announce at this time.” But that quartet would match Sibella’s grade scale.

Alexis parks it

Three shows are moving into the 3,600-square-foot Athena Ballroom at Alexis Park beginning Nov. 19: mentalist Alain Nu, the tribute “Motown Extreme” and Don Barnhart’s “Jokesters” comedy show. Barnhardt has also returned his “Delirious” show to Downtown Grand this month. “Delirious” is designed for visiting comics, “Jokesters” for in-town headliners.

Nu performs at 5 p.m., “Motown” at 7 p.m. and “Jokesters” at 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets are on sale Monday at TicketKite.com.

Room booker Pete Housley of Admit VIP also presents shows at Oyo’s Night Owl Showroom. That room remains shut down, Housley says, because it can’t work with 25-foot Entertainment Moat.

LMS at TVR

Lisa Marie Smith closed her first appearances at The Vegas Room supper club at Commercial Center on Saturday, capping a five-show run with pianist Dan Ellis. Comic legend Rich Little and his family took in Friday’s show. Ellis is Little’s bandleader at Laugh Factory at the Tropicana, where the show should return the week before Thanksgiving.

Smith, who fills Wednesday nights at Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio, was bold in her music selections. She performed a cappella version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” delivered a medley of “Tiny Dancer,” “Shallow” and “Believe;” and also took on “My Way” to close. A wonderful performance from the former “Pin Up” at Stratosphere and “Baz” at Palazzo co-star.

A Las Vegas Academy grad, Smith recited her Vegas roots in the performances. Saturday’s was livestreamed from the club. She talked of her days as a teenager, working as a lifeguard at Willows and Desert Shores parks in Las Vegas. These are personal moments that make The Vegas Room a favored hang

Smith also called out to her fiance and trumpet great Isaac Tubb. The couple became engaged when Tubb proposed during his appearance with The Family Stone at Pala Casino in San Diego in August.

During wedding planning, Smith has learned (and so have we) that a single bacon-wrapped shrimp appetizer costs $8. Seriously. Platinum toothpicks, I guess.

Smith is returning for a holiday show Dec. 9-12, with entertainment director Brent Barrett; his husband, Bernie Blanks; and jazz star Michelle Johnson. We would endorse a new menu item from Chef David Robinson for these shows. See above.

Goodman’s interception

It makes perfect sense when Oscar Goodman says, “The Chargers-Jaguars number is upside-down!” The former mayor of Las Vegas checked in with that message on Wednesday after reviewing the weekly betting lines for the Opportunity Village Picks for OV contest. We’re taking part in the citywide competition again this year.

Goodman glanced at the email listing this week’s betting lines, and immediately noted the Chargers listed at plus-7.5 against the Jags. The number should have been the Chargers at minus-7.5, or favored by more than a touchdown.

That’s a significant, 15-point mistake. It would have given the bettor an uncommon (and errant) advantage, if he were unethical. Instead, Goodman called contest organizer Daryl Sprague, who switched the number to the proper Chargers minus-7.5.

Goodman and yours truly entered the week tied at 18-12. OV exec Marty Wood is setting the pace at 21-9. Wood usually helps stage such holiday spectacles as The Great Santa Run and Magical Forest. I had no idea he was an oddsmaker. All for charity, naturally.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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