The Hippo


Apr 24, 2019








Rob Steen. Courtesy photo.

New Year’s Eve Comedy Gala 

When: Wednesday, Dec. 31, 7 p.m.
Where: Headliners Comedy Club, Elm St., Manchester
Three shows, all include dinner:
Rob Steen, Ira Proctor, Jody Sloane & Kyle Crawford - $30
Hypnotist Tommy Vee w/ comic Matt Barry opening - $30
Dueling Pianos - $85
For more New Year’s Eve comedy shows, go to

A funny year
Rob Steen looks back on 2014

By Michael Witthaus

 It’s not a stretch to say that Rob Steen has booked comedy shows in New England longer than anyone. As 2014 draws to a close, his enthusiasm is high. 

“I think comedy here is stronger than it’s ever been,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It seems to be getting more consistent now.”
A few standups who worked their way through Steen’s Headliners chain of comedy clubs are doing very well. Matt D, who won a Steen-sponsored competition in 2009, recently made his television debut on Conan O’Brien’s late-night show. Mike Koutrobis, another veteran of Steen’s clubs, landed a movie role in early December. 
Jenny Zigrino made the final three in the TBS summer competition Funny Wins. Will Noonan did the cable series Live at Gotham and was hired to do ads for Skype. Steen gives a lot of credit to a burgeoning open mike scene. 
“The venues are getting better, which turns out more quality comics,” he said.
Steen cites Ryan Bourassa as an example. With a dry delivery and lines like, “If Grand Theft Auto is a murder simulator, than watching sports is an exercise simulator,” Bourassa got his start at Penuche’s and the Shaskeen and recently moved to Las Vegas.  
“He’s very different, beats to his own drum,” Steen said.
Another comic on the bubble, Steen says: “Matt Barry could go faster and further than any of them … I’ve put him in a lot of different kinds of rooms [and] he kills.”
Barry is set to warm up the crowd for hypnotist Tommy Vee at Headliners in Manchester on Dec. 31, one of Steen’s many New Year’s Eve shows.  
“There’s something for everybody,” he said.
The Manchester location,  in the Radisson Hotel, offers two other entertainment options: Dueling Pianos or a four-comic lineup with Steen, Ira Proctor, Jody Sloane and Kyle Crawford. There’s dinner before and DJ dancing with a midnight toast after for some events, like the Dueling Pianos show. 
“People don’t necessarily want to come out for just a comedy show on New Year’s,” said Steen. “But they do like a gala.”
When it comes to ringing in the new year, Steen embodies the maxim “go big or go home.” Google “New Year’s Eve New Hampshire” and his shows appear first. Seriously — the Web domain is Steen’s. Shows include Concord, Nashua, Rochester, Bretton Woods, Burlington, Vermont, and Bangor and Augusta, Maine. There are three different venues operating in Manchester. 
On the big night, Steen is typically manic, burning down his cell phone battery while barking orders like a field general. He’ll break a long tradition this year by doing his standup act in the midst of all the bedlam. 
“I don’t work New Year’s Eve anymore; I stopped because I have too much going on,” he said. “But I’m giving it a try this time.”
He’s particularly excited about the two hypnotist shows. Frank Santos Jr. is appearing at the Holiday Inn in Concord with comedienne Jody Sloane. 
“People want to see their friends up there getting hypnotized,” said Steen. “He makes them do all kids of stuff … it’s very funny.”
For both headliners, hypnosis runs in the family. 
“Tommy Vee’s father is Jerry Valley, who was one of the biggest hypnotists in the country at one point,” Steen said. 
Frank Santos Jr. is the son of Frank Santos, whose R-Rated Hypnotist act was a mainstay from Foxwoods to Vegas until his sudden death in 2009.
Though Steen is buoyed by the success, he has a slight sense of uncertainty about the coming year. 
“We lost Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, and there’s no Bill Cosby … as a promoter you had ringers and shoo-ins, but not anymore,” he said. “The way comedy is now, there are so many different avenues like YouTube, but there are very few names.”
Several of the events are already sold out, so it’s a good idea to make reservations soon.  
As seen in the December 25, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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