and he’s married to lovely Australian actress Susanna Brisk.
There are many reasons for men to be jealous of Massachusetts native Barry Katz.
He’ s a pioneering comedy manager who helped launch the careers of big names like Dave Chappelle, Jay Mohr and Dane Cook he’ s a successful Hollywood producer and he’ s married to lovely Australian actress Susanna Brisk.
Well, now you can add another reason: He’ s one of the few — if only — people in the world who can deduct the cost of attending a World Series game at Fenway Park as a business expense.
Oh, and he got his Series tickets free.
Hey, when you’ re personally acquainted with Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, that goes without saying.
It was Katz’ s relationship with Werner that led to the creation of a unique television series, which will debut on New England Sports Network tonight after the Red Sox postgame show.
“I told Tom I thought there was a way to utilize stand-up comedy and sports, and there’ s never been a show like this,” said Katz, a Longmeadow, Mass., native. “I think it’ s going to be an amazing show and I’ m really proud to be working with the guys at NESN.”
New England sports fans already have plenty to smile about, but the folks at NESN hope to make them laugh as well with an original 10-episode series titled “NESN’ s Comedy All-Stars.”
Filming for the half-hour shows started Sunday, Jan. 13, at the Comedy Connection in Boston’ s Faneuil Hall as local and national comedians performed stand-up routines featuring exclusively sports-related topics.
Some of the notable comedians scheduled to participate are Paul Rodriguez, Brian Scolaro, Mike Donovan, Paul D’ Angelo and J-L Cauvin.
Maine native Bob Marley of Portland was originally one of 26 comedians scheduled to appear in the series, but had to withdraw due to a scheduling conflict.
The comedians were all invited by the 48-year-old Katz to participate. Unlike fellow Katz creation “Last Comic Standing,” this is not a competition.
“I know all these guys and know what they’ re capable of doing,” Katz explained. “These are comedians I’ ve known for years, but I also like to put on some new people and hopefully have this show break some stars as well.”
The shows were all filmed over five days at the Comedy Connection club. The first and fifth show days were filled almost immediately and all shows were virtually sold out within four days. The shows were free to the public and fans wishing to be part of the studio audience were able to make reservations online by e-mail to NESN.
The series resulted from a pitch to Werner by Katz at one of the Series games.
“I started out as a comic before I became a manager. Then I got into production,” Katz said. “I was always very persistent when I started out.”
That persistence manifested itself in many meetings with Werner to pitch possible film and TV projects.
“I never really got anything going with him even with all those meetings, other than one project that never got past the pilot stage,” Katz explained. “But we always keep in touch since I’ m a longtime Red Sox fan.”
Katz had never asked for a World Series ticket before, but when he was in Boston with Cook to work on a comedy (“My Best Friend’ s Girl”) this past fall, he called Werner to see if he and Cook could attend a game.
“While we were there, I sat with Tom and told him about my idea because I thought it might be perfect for NESN,” Katz said. “He loved it.”
Werner put Katz together with NESN vice president of programming Joel Feld and things came together quickly.
“It sounded like a really good idea. We were already looking for another original series to expand our content,” said Feld. “I think the beauty of this is simplicity: Three comics in a half-hour doing sports comedy routines mixed in with other material.
“It’ s not a contest or reality show. For those who remember A&E’ s Night at the Improv, this will look somewhat familiar.”
Katz, who has made his fortune and built his career on comedy, says Feld is right. Comedy isn’ t complicated.
“Stand-up doesn’ t fail. Well, it never fails unless it sucks,” he said with a chuckle. “The reason comedy works is tension. The tension of not knowing when it’ s going to happen. Horror films and comedy have a lot in common because you don’ t know where the joke or the scare is going to come from.”
The 10 half-hour shows will start airing July 25 and each successive Friday after Red Sox telecasts and postgame shows, which — barring extra innings — would put the approximate air time at 10:30 p.m.
The shows may also feature some “bonus” appearances.
“We’ re hopeful some of the members of the Red Sox and Bruins will show up to be part of the tapings or the material afterward,” said Feld. “Hopefully David Ortiz will be in town.”
Now there’ s someone who loves to laugh.