Rated Best Comedy Series by the editors of Vegas/Rated magazine, Aces of Comedy at the Mirage Hotel and Casino features a rotating lineup of some of the biggest names in standup, including Jay Leno, Ray Romano and Daniel Tosh.
In this exclusive interview, Franz Kallao, vice president of hotel operations at the Mirage, spins tales about its history, hilarity and highlights.
Tell us about the history of Aces of Comedy at the Mirage, and how it got to be known as the gold standard of Vegas comedy.
The Mirage began booking comedians around 2002, and the dates were pretty sporadic and infrequent. I believe we booked Ray Romano that year for a couple of shows. As we increased bookings, it became evident that a comedy program was a natural fit for this property. We began a concentrated focus on the branding and marketing of our comedy program, and thanks to the exceptional efforts of the Mirage’s advertising department, it just took off from there. The program was dubbed “Aces of Comedy” in 2010. Over the last decade, we have gone from just a few shows to more than a hundred this year. Overall, we’ve had more than 40 of the best comedians in the business perform at the Mirage.
What have some of the highlights been working with such talent over the years?
It has been a pleasure for me to get to know and work with our headliners and their managers and agencies. There are many facets to the entertainment business as well as associated challenges and intricacies that need to be handled delicately. Getting to know the key players has enabled me to do exactly that. We take good care of our headliners, and they feel comfortable here—which gives us a definite booking edge which is critical in this competitive market.
When booking talent, what are you looking for in particular when considering someone for the Aces of Comedy roster?
We book the biggest names in comedy here at the Mirage, and we are always on the lookout for what’s “new and fresh” in the comedy world. We pair up-and-coming fresh faces with the “tried and true” in order to offer our guests the best balance and scope of entertainment possible. We truly do have something for everyone. We start booking our talent for the next year about a year in advance. It is a collaborative process for us, working closely with Richard Sturm, president of MGM Resorts International Entertainment and Sports, and James Trudeau, vice president of MGM Resorts International Entertainment Booking. They do a tremendous job for us.
How much of a part does guest or fan demand have in bringing new acts to Aces of Comedy?
Pleasing our customer base is critical. There are many properties vying for a piece of the “entertainment pie.” It is very important for us to understand our guest demographic and know what they want. Because of the strength, popularity and proven reputation of our Aces of Comedy program, the Mirage has the ability to do just that! I can say with certainty that these comedians absolutely love performing in the Terry Fator Theatre.
If you had a wish list of some talent to bring to Aces of Comedy, who would be on there?
Three that immediately come to mind are Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle and Zach Galifianakis.
Jay Leno has been a mainstay on the bill for many years now. Are there plans for him to continue performing at the Mirage following his departure from the Tonight Show early next year?
We have had a very long and rewarding relationship with Jay, and he has been instrumental in the development and success of our Aces of Comedy program. We do have confirmed shows for Jay on the calendar for 2014, and hope that he continues to be a part of our program for many years to come. Jay is a wonderful performer and a good friend of MGM Resorts International.
What topics do comedians tend to joke about the most when it comes to Las Vegas?
Subject and comedy material is really all over the place and runs the gamut based on the comedian. One common theme, of course, is “everything Vegas.” The comedians talk about buffets, gamblers, nightclubs, tourists—need I say more?!
What other performing arts do you love most about Las Vegas?
What I really love about the performing arts in Las Vegas is the variety. We have so much to offer and with our local culture and performing arts movement, the rise in popularity of the “variety” show has grown. With the wonderful addition of the Smith Center, there really is something for everyone. Las Vegas is truly an entertainment mecca.
Visit Aces of Comedy online at www.mirage.com/entertainment/aces-of-comedy.aspx.
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