Comedians Claim That Theo Von Only Pays His Opener a Hundred Bucks

On a recent episode of ‘The Regz,’ Dan Soder suggested that a certain podcasting giant pays pennies on the dollar for massive theater shows
Comedians Claim That Theo Von Only Pays His Opener a Hundred Bucks

It’s only a matter of time until multi-millionaire comedy podcasters start paying their openers in Patreon subscriptions.

The mutually beneficial relationship between a touring comedian and their opener is an essential piece of the stand-up comedy ecosystem. Not only does an up-and-coming comic get the ever-vaunted and monetarily incalculable “exposure” that comes with performing in front of a theater full of thousands of comedy fans after months-to-years of testing material at open-mics in front of a half-dozen other comics, but they also get to glean invaluable industry wisdom from their headliner while shooting the shit in green rooms across the country. And, on top of all that intangible compensation, the opener actually gets paid — well, at least, they should get paid. 

The more popular a comedian becomes, the bigger the venues they play and the larger their cut of the door will be. On that scale, big-name Netflix comedians are able to pay their hard-working openers thousands of dollars per gig, with some paychecks even breaking five figures. But, ultimately, the rate is set by the headlining comic, and it’s up to the star to decide how much (or how little) their warm-up act rakes in. 

According to stand-up Dan Soder on a recent episode of The Regz podcast, one spectacularly successful podcasting comedian only pays his openers a measly $100 when he sells out massive theaters across the country — probably because he’s saving up for a second Christmas Katt Williams

The Regz is co-hosted by Soder, Joe ListLuis J. Gomez and Robert Kelly, who are all deep enough in the comedy industry to reliably spread rumors and gossip about comedy’s biggest names. Kelly, himself, was an opener for Louis C.K. pre-”cancellation,” and, like most successful comics, every one of them is an expert on economics of trying to make a name for yourself in the stand-up world while riding the coattails of bigger comics. 

So, when Soder revealed that he had heard from a working comic who may or may not have opened for Theo Von (whose name Soder obviously mouthed to his co-hosts in a futile attempt to prevent the internet from figuring it out) that Von allegedly only pays out “a hundred dollars a show” to play some of the biggest and most prestigious theaters on the continent, the rest of the Regz were appalled. “And this ain’t when you started in the sixties,” Soder told Kelly.

“The Chicago Theatre seats over 4,000 people, I think, around there,” Soder said of the gig where his friend pulled in roughly the cost of parking in Chicago’s Loop on a Friday night. Von last played the Chicago Theatre, which seats 3,600 according to their website, in February, 2022. Said Soder, “He’s doing two sold out shows a night, at least $80 a ticket, and you’re making — that’s $200,000 a night. … And you’re paying your opener $100.”

News of a certain podcasting comic’s alleged Scroogeness quickly went viral in comedy forums across the internet, with the overwhelming majority of comedy fans figuring out that Soder’s unnamed star was Von based on a number of clues, the funniest of which was how Kelly emphasized the syllables of “thee-ater” after learning the comic’s name.

Other comedians corroborated Von’s rate in the comments, and users found instances of stand-ups such as Ari Mannis opening for Von and revealing during their sets that they were only paid a single Benjamin. 

Iowa-based comic Dante Powell offered his own story of opening for Von in a thread about the Regz podcast: “I opened for Theo at a theater a couple years ago and didn’t get paid at all. ... That said, not only did he get us into some really cool spots in that city as well as some dope restaurants (he paid) after the shows, but he was a welcoming hang and tagged me in a bunch of social media posts that got me a buncha followers, so it evened out in the end for me.” 

Powell continued, “I can’t stress enough how kind he was. I am a regular feature for Kyle Kinane and Gary Gulman, and they both make sure I do REALLY well financially any weekends I do with them, so I try to take it all in stride. Idk what Ari and the other opener got paid, but they didn’t mention any issues with it.”

While the comics of The Regz admitted that the Von gossip basically turned them into a “sewing circle,” Gomez suggested, “Naming the name wouldn’t be a bad thing because then they would change it.” Soder was inspired by his own story to value up-and-coming comics, saying, “I’m gonna Venmo all my old openers.” Kelly said of the situation, “That’s fucking nuts. Because the podcast money is fucking nuts, never mind that money (from the shows.)” List teased that Von isn’t the only comedian at that pay grade who refuses to let the wealth trickle down, though he, too, wouldn’t drop the name of another comedian who he knows to stiff their warm-up acts.

Gomez joked of probably-Von and The Regz’ shit-talking of the podcasting king, “You think we could pay him $100 to be on the show?” 


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