By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Mahoning Valley will suddenly go from no comedy clubs to two.
Ken Phillips, a 25-year comedy veteran, will open the Comedy Factory at the MetroPlex Hotel in Liberty the weekend of March 4-5 with headliner The Disgruntled Clown.
It’s the same location that housed The Funny Farm for close to two decades before it moved a couple years ago and subsequently closed. Dave Robich, who ran the Funny Farm since day one, reopened it last month at The Radisson Hotel in West Middlesex, Pa.
The MetroPlex made the announcement that it was reopening its comedy club before Robich reopened The Funny Farm. But the Libery hotel had been slow to get the ball rolling.
That should rapidly change now that Phillips is in charge. The Virginia man has a track record in the comedy business.
The Comedy Factory, said Phillips, will book top national touring comedians every Friday and Saturday. It will be part of a new comedy chain and is seeking local talent to serve as emcees and for possible touring. Auditions will be at 8 p.m. March 3 at the Liberty club. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
One of Phillips’ greatest successes has been Carrot Top. He and business partner Brad Greenberg took charge of the comedian in his early days and transformed him from a club performer to a national act with a Las Vegas home base and multiple television appearances.
Phillips’ film and television credits include: co-executive producer for the 1998 film “Chairman of the Board;” producer for “AM Mayhem” on Cartoon Network; and co-creator, writer and producer for two TV pilots.
In 1984, Phillips co-founded the Comedy Zone in Charlotte, N.C., which grew to be one of the largest comedy-club chains in North America. He also promoted comedy concerts with stars, including: Jerry Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, Ron White, Ellen DeGeneres, Carrot Top, Rodney Carrington, Sinbad, Paul Reiser, Drew Carey, Brian Regan, Louie Anderson, Phyllis Diller, Pat Paulson, Gallagher, Rich Hall and Emo Phillips.