Bye-Bye Bunnies

Producer Cort McCown leaves Playboy Comedy to start a comedy empire with Caesars Entertainment

When Dov Davidoff told his last joke Dec. 31 at The Lounge, it marked the end of an eight-year run for the Playboy Comedy Club at the Palms. The property, which was recently taken over by private equity firms, couldn’t deliver any longer on the hopes producer Cort McCown had for the showcase.

“I love George Maloof,” McCown says of the Palms’ former majority owner. “I respect him a lot. He was a great guy to work for. Unfortunately, I wasn’t working for George anymore.”

A four-show-a-week production, Playboy Comedy had regularly featured monster acts in comedy circles that might not otherwise have had the crossover cachet to play the really big showrooms. Guys such as Marc Maron, the late Patrice O’Neal and Andy Kindler would regularly headline. It wasn’t the only club in town to book that level of talent—the House of Blues and Club Madrid at Sunset Station, among others, are both regular stops for quality hardliners—but McCown did it with a frequency that other venues didn’t, and in a room that leaned heavily on its swanky charm.

It didn’t hurt that Playboy Playmates would drop by and sign copies of the magazine, too.

But now McCown has taken his well-stocked black book to Paris Las Vegas for the new Empire Comedy, which runs Thursday through Saturdays in Napoleon’s Lounge.

“An opportunity came to build a new brand with a new company and do some growth that really wasn’t possible at the Palms,” McCown says. “Now I have the support of eight hotels as opposed to one hotel that’s off the Strip. It’s a $20 cab ride to go to the Palms.”

In addition to the weekly shows at Paris, McCown will also produce occasional shows at the Flamingo. (The first of which is a Jon Lovitz gig March 16-17.) While The Lounge and Napoleon’s are comparable venues with about 200 seats, being able to put on shows in the 750-seat Flamingo Showroom marks a big step up, one which McCown hopes is just the first of many.

“I’d like to see Empire Comedy be a brand that could go to other Caesars properties all over the country.”

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