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Keith Stubbs: Bringing Laughs to Utah
By Tom Haraldsen
November 7, 2014
Keith Stubbs is arguably one of the busiest men in Utah’s entertainment industry. The radio personality and stand-up comedian hosts two radio shows each weekday in Salt Lake City—from 6 to 10 a.m. on 101.5 The Eagle and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN 700 for the Keith Stubbs Sports show. He also owns WiseGuys Comedy Clubs in both West Valley City and Ogden, with a third opening in downtown Salt Lake City later this year.
I always loved comedy as a kid, and did some impressions from an early age in school. I loved Johnny Carson, Rich Little, Fred Travalena. In my high school in Charleston, S.C., I was voted “wittiest.” I wanted to be voted “most likely to succeed,” but no such luck. In 1991, I walked away from being a stock broker and started doing stand-up at clubs across the country. After a few years, I decided to get out of L.A. and came to Utah. I never had the intention of opening my own comedy club here, but that’s what happened.
When and where did you open your first comedy club?
It was in 1996, a place called Laughs on Historic 25th Street in Ogden. I had planned to keep doing shows on the road, but one night while heading to Minnesota with another comic for a show, we rolled the car and I was nearly killed. That ended that. With my business background and knowing a little about the comedy business, I combined my knowledge with lots of credit card debt and opened the club. Laughs was successful, but I got married in 1999, sold the club and moved to Seattle (my wife’s hometown) for a few months. We ended up coming back to Utah and I opened WiseGuys in West Valley in 2001. WiseGuys in Ogden opened in 2004.
Is it hard getting comedians to come to Utah?
In the beginning it was a bit challenging, but no, not now. I have a good feel for what will work in this market, and I’ve had no problem booking them to come. There are several who want to come here to perform that I’ve had to turn down because our schedules get full. When a comic comes for the first time, they ask, “Hey, what’s it going to be like?” I tell them to just do their thing, and they love it. They’re good clubs, and I’m excited about the expansion into the new downtown [Salt Lake City] location later this year.
You’ve got the clubs and two radio shows five days a week. How do you do it all?
I also do a lot of emcee work and some stand-up gigs as well. I love entertaining, whether it’s talking about sports on ESPN 700, doing my DJ bit on The Eagle or hosting at WiseGuys. It’s exhausting, but I love it. The important thing is to compartmentalize and prioritize what you’ve got to do. Family comes first, then business. As long as you keep priorities straight, things always work out.