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October 21, 2014

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In a case of curious timing, ‘Sin City Comedy’ bolts for Planet Hollywood

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John Padon of “Sin City Comedy.”

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  • Jubilee, David Saxe and Tiger Martina
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  • John Padon, Dorimar Bonilla
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  • Adam Steck, Laura Warshauer
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David Saxe.

One of the tenets of great comedy is, of course …

Timing.

And John Padon is betting his comedy club’s success on proper timing. Set aside, for a moment, that Padon will not be hosting any comedy productions in Las Vegas for most of the summer.

To him, the timing is right.

Padon is the owner of “Sin City Comedy,” the comedic and burlesque showcase that, since April 1, 2009, has been staged at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

Padon’s show is a unique blend of top stand-up acts interwoven with burlesque numbers. The club’s comic-and-dance routine has worked well. Padon and his business partner and chief booking agent in the club, the esteemed Kevin Kearney (whose mobile phone certainly blares more than yours), have consistently lured some of the best club comics in the country into the 285-seat enclave. Often, a crisp set by longtime Vegas comic Carla Rea is followed by a wild dance number by Puerto Rican siren Dorimar Bonilla.

But Padon has never said he felt V Theater was his ultimate comic platform, having filmed and shopped around a TV pilot centering on performances at the club in an effort to generate nationwide exposure to his operation.

Padon’s endgame is to build a club that, in spirit if not in fact, stands alone. His endgame is not to continue to lease a venue operated by David Saxe, who also produces Gerry McCambridge’s long-running “The Mentalist” in that space, and also produces or promotes a total of 11 shows (most notably “V — Ultimate Variety Show” and “Vegas! The Show”) in his V Theater and Saxe Theater venues.

Padon is getting his chance to move now, though the timing of the bug-out was not his own. Saxe dictated that. Padon announced this week he’s closing “Sin City” on June 30, because Saxe has ordered him to. Padon says he learned of this development formally on Monday, after ticket brokers around the valley were informed by Saxe reps that “Sin City Comedy” was vacating V Theater at the end of the month.

In this entertainment business confluence, Saxe leases his vast V Theater space from Miracle Mile Shops, and Padon has paid rent to Saxe for three years to stage “Sin City Comedy” at the theater. But that agreement expired more than a month ago, as Padon was busy forging his plan to uproot the show and move it to a new venue at Planet Hollywood.

Consequently, Padon has been operating without a lease at V Theater since late April. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that’s a curious arrangement in any business partnership.

It is no surprise that Padon has always spoken positively when asked about his relationship with Saxe, one of the city’s most successful producers over the past two decades. “Working with David is like going to Producer 101 class,” Padon says. “He’s great at what he does, and he’s actually been very supportive.”

He’s been supportive enough to allow “Sin City Comedy” to continue its residency at his theater without a lease agreement for more than a month. No argument about that. But Saxe cut that support after learning Padon was planning to move — and soon — across the property to Planet Hollywood.

As this mini-drama plays out, Saxe happens to be doing business in Japan through Monday and has not been available to talk about the changes in his lineup at V Theater (nothing to replace “Sin City Comedy” has been announced). His publicist, Shelley Bruner, did send a statement on behalf of David Saxe Productions:

"'Sin City Comedy' had a fantastic run at V Theater. Because of this relationship, Mr. Saxe has allowed the show to remain open at the theater even though the lease agreement expired almost six weeks ago. Saxe wishes the show’s producers and performers continued success and is proud to have helped launch and build 'Sin City Comedy' into the brand that it is today."

“Sin City” will be back. Padon is in the planning stages for another stage, at Planet Hollywood’s Mez level, a closed-at-the-moment space across from the “Peepshow” theater and next to the wedding chapel on that floor.

The new club, for which Padon is still awaiting proper building permits from Clark County, is to open in mid-August. As blueprints for the floor plan indicate, the new Sin City Theater is to seat 300 patrons, all of whom are to enjoy an unobstructed view of the stage.

“The room will have quick turnaround,” Padon says. “We’ll have a new stage, lights, bar, dressing room. It will be a working theater, and it’ll be designed specifically for additional small-theater productions.”

Padon says Las Vegas producers who are not David Saxe, most notably Adam Steck of SPI Entertainment (who has built an impressive cache of Vegas shows, including “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas,” Human Nature, and “Thunder From Down Under” and whose “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” is headed for Broadway) is looking at productions to fill the theater.

Seth Yudof, founder of UD Factory in Las Vegas, says he is also looking for existing and new shows to move into the club. A former partner in CatHouse at Luxor, Yudof most recently assembled the entertainment at the now-defunct RPM nightclub at Tropicana, which closed in March after a three-month lifespan and has since been taken over by the One Group under its Bagatelle brand. Yudof is a partner in Sin City Comedy Theater, holding what Padon says is a small-percentage interest, along with Kearney.

As for what acts or performers might be moving into the space, Yudof said he doesn’t have anything to announce yet. It is not apparent which of the acts noted on the UD Factory website (which include Louis Prima Jr. and the band Pink Fuzzy Animals) would work in the new venue.

What is definite is the “Sin City Comedy” show, the theater anchor and (at the moment) its only announced production, would be constructed in the same comic-dance format as the “Sin City” productions at V Theater. Caesars Entertainment is the project overlord, renting out the Planet Hollywood club space to Padon and has the authority to approve any shows performed at the venue.

This could well be one of the Strip’s prime comedy clubs. Whether you’ll see comedy being committed there August is left to fate — and timing.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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