In this edition of Run The Light we Interview the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena owner Bob Fisher.

Ari: You started as a salesman for IBM, what got you interested in comedy?
Bob: I’ve always been interested in comedy. I was always the “funniest guy in my class.” In junior high, I’d listen to Lenny Bruce and Bob Newhart albums. But what actually got me into comedy was a phone call from a college buddy. He was opening a comedy club in Newport Beach, CA. called “The Laff Stop” and wanted to know if I’d open and manage it. I did that from 1976-1978 and then left to buy The Ice House in Pasadena.

Ari: Did running the LaughStop motivate you to buy your own club?
Bob: After 2 years at The Laff Stop, I really didn’t want to continue in the comedy club biz……far too hard a job. But, I saw The Ice House, which was struggling, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own and try to revive a legendary venue.

Ari: As the owner you have probably seen more comedy than most which comedians in the past or the present are you most excited to see perform?
Bob: I like comics who get their laughs with carefully crafted skillful writing as opposed to only likability and energy. I like comics who use words well. Some of my favorites have been Richard Jeni and Brian Regan. I’m happy for every comic whose “made it.” It’s a difficult job, sucess often is a matter of luck, and the odds are long.

Ari: You have owned the Ice House for over 35 years, during that time comedy has boomed but also hindered, what do you think the cause is for the popularity of comedy to fluctuate so greatly?
Bob: I think comedies popularity fluctuates based on two things:
-Is the economy going well…are people willing to go out and spend extra dollars.
-Are movies and TV creating comedy stars who are willing to still appear in the clubs.

Ari: What was the biggest change that the Ice House has gone through?
Bob: The biggest change The Ice House has gone through involves the use of the internet and social media to get people in the door and the need to book “name” acts. In the “old days” you could book great shows with no name acts, and people would still flock to those shows. Now it’s hard to generate an audience for those shows.

Ari: What has been your strategy at the Ice House that has kept it in business for so long?
Bob: We’ve stayed in business for so long simply because we’re willing to say “No” to many comics, and only book the best comics. Our audiences are rarely disappointed with our shows. Also… we put very little liquor in our drinks and use inexpensive food products that expired several days prior to our serving them… Joking.

Ari: What makes the Ice House different than any other comedy club?
Bob: The Ice House is unique because we’re casual and friendly. When people are relaxed they laugh more easily. Also, the owner is shorter than Danny DeVito. This makes everyone over 5’ 1” tall feel better about themselves.

Ari: What is your favorite part about owning a comedy club?
Bob: I get great satisfaction in standing in the back of the room and watching audiences laugh. It’s nice to see their stress gone…if only for a few hours. Also, firing exceptional employees has always been fun for me. The looks on their faces when you let them go for no reason is priceless.

Ari: What do you see for the future of the Ice House?
Bob: As long as name acts are occasionally willing to play our “undersized” room, and as long as we continue to put on quality shows and resist the “bringer show” mentality I don’t see why The Ice House can’t go on for another 53 years.

Ari: Are there any projects you are working on outside of the Ice House?
Bob: Well, there is this girl named Gloria. Actually, we’re always trying (like everyone else in L.A.) to get a TV show.

Ari: Anything else you would like to tell the world?
Bob: I’d like to encourage people to come out to a “LIVE” comedy show. It’s one thing to experience comedy on TV or in a theater. It’s a totally different experience to laugh in a comedy club. Also…smile at older people. It makes us feel good.

You Can Find Bob At The Ice House in Pasadena, CA
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Photo’s Taken By: Michael Schwartz

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