Jackson comedy showcase is just for laughs - Jackson Clarion Ledger

posted on 08 Aug 2015 01:18 by imaginarynip9220
Rachel James-Terry, Clarion-Ledger correspondent

8:37 p.m. CDT August 6, 2015

The 2nd Annual Jackson's All Star Comedy Showcase is tonight at The Hideaway in the Deville Plaza Shopping Center in Jackson.(Photo: Special to The Clarion-Ledger)

Elton Pope, CEO of Carpe Diem Mgmt LLC, wants just one thing from today's 2nd Annual Jackson's All Star Comedy Showcase: He wants people to laugh.

"The first year we did it at the Jackson, Mississippi, planetarium. It was sold out; there wasn't an empty seat in the house. So we're looking for a bigger turnout. This is really a showcase for our local talent to make Jackson and everyone aware of what we have right here," Pope, 36, said.

This time, the venue will be The Hideaway in the Deville Plaza Shopping Center in Jackson.

Pope graduated in 2002 with a degree in marketing from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. Perhaps it was comedic intervention that led him to eventually create his Carpe Diem Mgmt nearly five years ago in his native Vicksburg.

Tasked with organizing a birthday "comedy explosion" for one of his best friends, former NFL cornerback Fred Smoot, Pope discovered his funny bone.

"We did a comedy show at the convention center in downtown Jackson. Fantasia Barrino was the host," Pope says. "We had five or six acts, and I kind of just fell in love with the comedy and it was a successful event."

Soon thereafter, Pope landed his first comedy show in New York and was troubled by what he considered "price gouging." He vowed to handle his business bookings himself.

What followed was a two-year contract with Lady Luck Casino. "I did a weekly comedy night on Thursday nights there, two shows a night. I brought in nationally known comedians and local talent, and that made me realize there wasn't really a stage for local comedians to perform and sharpen their comedic chops," he says.

When Pope finished working with Lady Luck, he got a sponsorship with Capitol City Beverage then a two-year contract with Ameristar Casino.

Although it is difficult for him to narrow down his most successful moment, Pope easily recalls the struggle to overcome negative feedback. "When we first started, it was a dry market. We would go to different spots trying to do a comedy show, and we were told it's not going to work," says Pope, who's married and the father of three boys.

"It was just horrible, but we were just spending our money http://scottygotanofficejob.com because we knew we had to stay consistent. So it took us two years, and now we have us a crowd, people that we see every time we do a show."

Carpe Diem now does a monthly Joking Around Comedy Series in Jackson, "We've done a couple shows at the Penguin, Center Stage and the newest spot was ISH with Marcus Comb from Chicago," Pope says.

Pope also holds Team Whodie's Comedy Crackup monthly in Hattiesburg. "We average 300 people every month in Hattiesburg at Club Brewski's. It's packed," he says.

Grooming local comedians and offering a platform to perfect their craft is also a goal for Pope and Carpe Diem. "We created a workout room at the Mediterranean Grill ... for upcoming comedians to come and work out in front of an audience and everything."

Recognizing that stand-up can be a financial struggle, Pope also pays every local comedian who has done or will do a Carpe Diem show. He wants them to recognize the value in their talent so they are not easily taken advantage of.

Pope recently overcome his own struggle to find the right location. His search ended with The Hideaway -- the setting for Friday's show. ""Comedy is made to be intimate and made to be fun," Pope says, "and that's how we try to keep it. ... I think it's one of those venues I won't have to move from for a while, because you can outgrow a venue."

Sometime in the next five to 10 years, Pope hopes to own a comedy club and expand his empire throughout Mississippi and the Southeastern states. "We want to be the premiere management group booking comedy shows."

If you go

oWhat: 2nd annual Jackson's All Star Comedy Showcase 2015

oWhen: Today

oWhere: The Hideaway, 5100 I-55 N, Jackson (in Deville Plaza)

oTime: Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.

oFor more information, call (601) 709-7894 or (601) 317-1602

oWebsite: www.carpediemmgmt.com

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