Small Business Spotlight: Shaun Eli Talks The Business Of Comedy


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- From Wall Street to the stage.

Shaun Eli followed his passion of stand-up comedy in the early 2000s while his full-time job was as a banker and he struck it big when he auditioned for NBC's "Last Comic Standing" in 2003. Around that time, Jay Leno began using his material on the "Tonight Show."

"When you start as a comedian, unlike a musician, if you're a musician you start when you're a kid and by the time you're an adult you're good. In comedy people don't really start performing until they're adults so every comedian is gonna stink for five or ten years before they get good," Eli said. 

Today, Eli employs comics with his business, "The Ivy League of Comedy."

He books tours for comics and puts together shows for theaters, performing arts centers, corporate and charity events, houses of worship and country clubs.

They stand out with clean comedy, which Eli discovered early on there was a demand for.

"My colleagues in finance would come to see me and they'd say, 'Your comedy is clean, but everybody else in the show is filthy. We want to take other people as a business trip to a show where can we see an all clean show and there wasn't one.' And I said well there's obviously demand for this so I started arranging them," Eli said.

He says the shows that often sell out feature all female comedians. 

"I was talking to two female comics who were best friends and roommates. I said, 'It must be great because you're best friends and you live together, you get to travel together. And they looked at me like I was an idiot and said, 'Nobody ever puts two women in the same show.' I'm like, 'I can do that," Eli said.