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September 18, 1992 - Image 75

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-09-18

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Yukking it
up at the
Comedy Castle
is still fun for
Bruce Rosen.

..■•■•■ •..


Special to The Jewish News

Bruce Rosen with laugh partner Mark Ridley.


ruce Rosen is turn-
ing his friends into
talent scouts, but not
intentionally. Since
becoming an owner
of Mark Ridley's Comedy Cas-
tle in 1986, Mr. Rosen has in-
terested those close to him in
standup humor. It has be-
come second-nature for them
to seek out comedy clubs
whenever they travel, eager
to tell him about the enter-
tainers they like.
"I'm always glad to have a
suggestion, and I always fol-
low up," said Mr. Rosen,
whose primary business is
Supreme Distributors in
Southfield, a health, beauty
aid and designer perfume
supplier for major corpora-
tions across the country.
So far, the Comedy Castle
in Royal Oak has not been
able to book any of these
finds, sometimes because the
comedians don't tour Michi-
gan and other times because
of fee considerations. But with
at least 52 different acts a
year, there are ample oppor-
tunities for successful place-
ments in the future.
Mr. Rosen's association
with the club — which helped
launch the careers of TV's
Tim Allen ("Home Improve-
ment"), Dave Coulier ("Full
House") and Thom Sharpe
(commercials) — came by
chance. Active with the Vari-
ety Club, a group that pro-
vides assistance for disabled
children, he met Mr. Ridley
at a Variety luncheon.
"Mark used to bring come-
dians to our luncheons, and I

love standup comedy," Mr.
Rosen recalled. "One day I
happened to mention that if
he decided to get out of the
basement — all of his clubs
had been in basements — he
should give me a call because
I would be interested in get-
ting involved.
"That was on Thursday,
and on Friday morning, I got
the call."
At the time, the club was
on Woodward, North of
Eleven Mile, where meals
were served in addition to
jokes. Mr. Rosen defined his
role as systematizing the
business aspects of the oper-
"We began to rate our co-
medians after every perfor-
mance," he said. "We can now
look back two or three years
and know how a person did,
what the weather was that
particular night, how many
people showed up and what
we paid.
"We have to make sure that
everybody we bring in is prof-
itable or make that attempt
anyway. We had meetings
every other week and talked
about promotions and ex-
The meetings, which have
become less frequent, also in-
clude the two other owners:
Richard Lewis, who works
with Mr. Rosen, and Jim
Courtney, whose primary
business is real estate.
They were able to sell the
Woodward building and get
the new one in Royal Oak
without dipping into addi-
tional funds. They cut food
service, made sure customer
costs were comparable to
what was paid for movies, of-
fered valet parking, scheduled
no-smoking days and pro-
vided pre-show parties with
Although very few X-rated
shows are featured, the Com-
edy Castle makes a point of
letting patrons know in ad-
vance. They do not want any-
one expecting an R-rated
program to be surprised or of-
"Royal Oak turned out to be
the right place," reported Mr.

Rosen, who cited expressway
access and new area restau-
rants as bringing more walk-
in traffic.
"I enjoy the entertainment
business, and I enjoy going to
the club," said the owner, who
is generally in the audience
to see three humorists out of
every four. "Most of them are
funny off stage as well as on."
After each performance he
attends, he will go backstage
and visit with the comedian.
This has led to some special
The experience that means
the most to him, however, has
to do with a young comic in-
troduced to a child brought to
Detroit by the Variety Club.
The boy needed medical treat-
ment that was not available
in Romania.
Once he learned about the
Variety Club and saw first-
hand the achievements of
members, the comedian be-
came a life patron member,
donating $1,000 to the orga-
nization. In addition, upon re-
turning home to California,
he encouraged fellow comedi-
ans to contribute, and Mr.
Rosen received $25 checks
from different performers for
two months after that.
"I'm a positive person, and
I like to watch people laugh,"
Mr. Rosen said. "I never saw
anybody laugh feeling bad.
Everybody has a way of get-
ting away from problems, and
comedy is one of those ways."
Although Mr. Rosen never
aspired to be a comedian, he
thinks of himself as having a
good sense of humor. He stud-
ied accounting at Wayne
State University but gave up
the idea of an accounting ca-
reer because of the serious im-
age he thought accountants
had to maintain.
"They couldn't kibitz, and
that wasn't for me," said the
man responsible for bringing
large numbers of profession-
al kibitzers to Michigan.
"Years ago, most of the co-
medians were Jewish. Some
of them are 80 and 85, and
they're still performing. Even
today there are lots of Jewish

Continued on Page 80






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