After booking thousands of comedy acts, Tommy Williams, owner of Charlie Goodnights, thinks he's developed a knack for predicting which comedians will hit the coveted "big time." (Translation: movies, starring in TV sitcoms, hosting late-night television.) And often he's been right. Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O'Donnell, Ray Romano, Drew Carey and Chris Rock are just a few who played to packed houses in the intimate club.
Every week, the "next Jay Leno" may be performing at Goodnights. Here are five you should catch now while the ticket price is low and you can see them up close in person:
1. Mitch Hedberg
"You watch," says Williams after Hedberg headlined at Goodnights in September. Hedburg has a look and stage presence that has attracted sell-out crowds going to Goodnights. One local DJ in town thought the 20-something, latter-day hippie with shoulder-length hair was on drugs during a radio promo for his September engagement. "Not at all," says Williams. "That's just Mitch. He never does drugs, but you'll remember him as the guy who looks like he's stoned all the time."
2. Maryellen Hooper
If Lucille Ball and Dick Van Dyke had a baby, it would be Maryellen Hooper "because I have red hair and am always tripping over ottomans," she says in her promotional material. "You'll remember her as the girl with the flea market dresses and '40s haircut who makes fun of herself," says Williams. "She has a knack for making the audience feel happy."
3. Pablo Francisco
"He has a knack for off-the-wall sound effects and hilarious impressions, like his version of Arnold Schwarzenegger working as a tortilla vendor. His comedy is high-energy."
4. Greg Morton
"He commands the stage. People stop and listen to him. He does unbelievable sound effects. Lots of people are trying to write TV shows around him."
5. Bobby Slayton
"A short guy. He played Joey Bishop in the movie, The Rat Pack; he's doing syndicated radio now. On stage he spends the whole show ridiculing the audience. People love it."