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John Padon muses on ‘Sin City Comedy’ false start and performing for an audience of one — Steve Wynn

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Steve Wynn on the Andre Agassi Grand Slam red carpet at the Wynn on Oct. 9, 2010.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

John Padon jokes that a few years ago, he found himself “staring down the barrel of a cruise ship career.”

Chasing divorcees and overindulging in the ample food and drink available while the ship is at sea are not for him.

“You play one night a week, and if it’s early in the week, you’re famous, which is good and bad,” he said during the latest episode of Kats With the Dish on KUNV 91.5-FM. “You’ve got fans, or you’ve got people who hate you.”

So Padon pulled into port, as it were, and started Sin City Comedy at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops. The rockin’ mix of stand-up comedy and burlesque dancing opened April 1, 2009.

The most recent happenings at the club centered on Padon’s plan to stage a regular showcase at the V Theater showroom to air on Comedy Central. Several weeks ago, a pilot featuring comic Carl LaBove had been recorded for the project, with the idea that the sketches would serve as the spine for the new show. But it’s not to be, at least not in the version first envisioned.

As Padon said during the radio interview, that project hit “a brick wall” when Comedy Central CEO Zoe Friedman, the daughter of Improv Comedy Club founder Budd Friedman, was replaced by Doug Herzog.

Padon opens for Carrot Top (warning: adult language) - from YouTube.com

“He has decided he doesn’t want any more stand-up comedy on Comedy Central,” Padon said, referring to Herzog, adding that he had no more than a “letter of interest” from the cable channel to produce the show, which is short of a written contract between the two sides to bring the show to the air. “But we have Viacom, a couple of stations, interested, and Mark Cuban (co-owner of the cable channel HDNet) is interested. A&E is interested.”

But Padon is no closer to that deal than he was before he recruited LaBove to serve as the host of the pilot he was pitching to Comedy Central. He has since booked Eddie Brill to perform straight stand-up at the club. Brill is a lead writer on The Late Show With David Letterman who warms up the crowd before each night’s napping. In a politically advantageous coincidence, Brill also is a friend of Herzog’s.

“What Carl did was a sketch-type deal. We ran him over with a car, with his face smashed into a windshield,” Padon said. “We hit him while going 15, 20 miles an hour, and he had a mic on. It was really funny, but it didn’t work in the realm of what we were doing.”

More nuggets from the interview:

• Padon was the comic in The History of Sex at the Golden Nugget, in the days when Steve Wynn owned the hotel. Padon was able to skate by in rehearsals, for a time. “It was very weird to do that show, because we would do run-through after run-through after run-through after run-through, and the whole showroom was empty except for one chair, which is for Steve,” Padon recalled. “He’d sit down and say, ‘OK! Let’s run it (clap-clap).’ And these poor kids would dance and sing their tails off, and I’d come out and go, ‘And this is where I do comedy,’ and walk off. So the cast hated me, from the very beginning.”

But Padon eventually did have to do his act for Wynn.

“I said, ‘Really? For Caesar?’ ” Padon said. “It was the most unnerving, intimidating thing I’ve done in my career. There was Steve Wynn, with his arms folded, and making him laugh was very important.” Fortunately for Padon, Wynn did laugh at a time when a grimace would have been a career killer.

• Padon wrote for the sitcoms Home Improvement and Wonder Years, earning an Emmy for the latter. His career in Vegas includes stints with an assortment of adult revues, including Midnight Fantasy at Luxor, Skintight at Harrah’s, the original X show at the Aladdin and Bareback, also at Harrah’s. He still performs at his own club, too.

• Padon’s partner in the club, Kevin Kearney, was once the national booking manager for Catch a Rising Star comedy clubs. Kearney once auditioned a comic named Dan Whitney for a spot at the Catch a Rising Star outpost at MGM Grand. Whitney told Kearney he wanted to do five minutes of a redneck-type character in his act, to which Kearney said, “We don’t pay guys to experiment. This is an ‘A’ club.”

But Kearney did consent to Whitney’s quick audition as … Larry the Cable Guy.

“When he was done, Kevin said, ‘You know what, Dan? Never be Dan Whitney again. Larry the Cable Guy is funny!”

An addendum: Kearney is a prolific pianist who once backed the Unknown Comic, played as such by comic Murray Langston. Such tales would be a great backdrop of a TV show about the club.

Or so it would seem.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow "Kats With the Dish" at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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