We've enlisted comedians, some based here and others who spend their time on the road and come through Vegas, to share their recommendations on great places to dine in Sin City for a feature dubbed Comedian Confidential.
John Caponera is considered a comic's comic, a true professional, offering a mix of material from impressions to characterizations to stories and one liners. Caponera starred in his own sitcom The Good Life and hosted Comedy Central's sport show Jocks and ESPN's Talk II. He performs at the Improv at Harrah’s through Saturday night. Here he talks about some of his favorite restaurants, betting in the sports books and how Las Vegas is a place for hanging out with other comedians.
How often do you get to Las Vegas?
I get to Las Vegas about four times a year to do gigs or corporate events. Also, my best friend who I played baseball with in college lives there. He sells custom casino chairs for slots.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas?
My first trip to Las Vegas was in the late ’70s and I just remember being mesmerized by all the lights on the Strip and the marble in the casinos. Back then, everyone dressed to the nines in the casino. It was less corporate owned and there were more perks for high rollers. I saw my first topless show at Bally's and that was pretty cool. Today, you may see a family in shorts and flip flops pushing a baby in a stroller through the casino. I started performing in Vegas at he Comedy Store at the Dunes in the mid-’80s. On my son's first trip to Vegas he was around eight years old and he mentioned that the closer we got to Vegas, skimpier and skimpier the clothes got on the women on the billboards. I thought that was pretty insightful.
Do you have any favorite restaurants you like to visit here?
My favorite restaurant to visit, whose name escapes me, is the Italian restaurant in the Riviera. Too bad it will be gone soon. When I'm in Vegas I have to go at least once to My Fat Greek on Flamingo and Decatur and Metro Pizza in the same strip mall. My Fat Greek has the best gyro I ever had. It comes with a side of salad or fries. I also like Five Guys burgers.
Do people approach you while you're dining out?
People don't approach me much when I'm dining out. I'm like a pseudo celebrity. I get recognized but people can't put a finger on where they know me. I get questions like, "Where do I know you from? Did we go to high school together? Are you on television? Were you at my sister's wedding? Did we sleep together?" People recognize my voice more than the face because I get played a lot on Sirius and XM radio.
What about nightlife? Do you ever go out to unwind?
Sometimes I go out after my show to hook up with other comics I may know who are in town. We'll either hook up at Harrah's, the Trop, or MGM. We'll either end up at a bar or green room of some comedy club. It's one of the few places in America where you can get together with other headliners and hang out.
What was the first thing that shocked you in Las Vegas?
The first thing that shocked me in Las Vegas was the sports books. I'm a big sports fan from Chicago and I was blown away at all the TVs and the betting lines. It was like an adult's Disneyland to be able to play a three-team parlay and kick back with some friends, drink and watch all the games at once. To this day I look forward to doing that when I'm in Las Vegas.
What can we expect at your show?
What you can expect at my show is to laugh hard. I talk about everything and anything that makes me laugh. I've been at this for 36 years and I've been playing Las Vegas since the mid-’80s. I'm not one to boast but if you come to my show, I guarantee a good time.