Wolchek Investigation: Stand-up comedians say comedy booker is a joke

Stand-up comedians across the country say they have been burned by a comedy agency located in Michigan.

Fake names, vague addresses, the comics couldn't find the guy behind the bad bookings but Problem Solver Rob Wolchek did.

Say hi to "Chuckleboy."

He is a hilarious stand-up comedian and is also a booking agent.

But Chuckleboy's antics are drawing boos and heckles from of all people, other comedians.

"It's dirty what he's doing," said comedian known as The Disgruntled Clown.

"He's messing with who we are and our reputations and that's really all we really have," Stephano, a comic, said.

Because what they say Chuckleboy is doing sure ain't funny. Using their comedy videos on his websites to make money by booking them into shows - but replacing them with other comics.

"They're making me look like I'm canceling gigs I didn't ever know I got booked," said comedian Fryman.

Being a road comic is rough.  Comedians like the Disgruntled Clown, Fryman, Billy Ray Bauer, Washboard Floyd and Stephano spend months at a time on the road, in motels, playing clubs and bars and bar mitzvahs all over the country.

Many of them do one night stands on the road between their bigger gigs.

And many of those gigs are booked by Charter Talent, Laffs Express, Blackstone Talent and the Comedian Agency.  

Companies run by a mysterious guy named "Jason Cooper" "Chuck Wozlick." "Bill Green."

Comic Stephano says all of these supposed agents from these different companies all sounded the same to him.

"It was the same man using a different name," Stephano said.

Who did it sound like?  Chuckleboy. 

Here's how it works, you're looking for a comedian for your party or comedy night.  Your Google search leads you to one of Chuckleboy's websites.

Click on the "Watch Comedian Videos"  tab and there's more than 100 of this agency's supposed comics you can choose from.

"On their website they have videos of their comedians," Fryman said. "But they clip the front of the video and the back of the video so you can't see the comic's name."

"I was 'Comedian 12,'" Stephano said. "I don't remember my number but I was on his page which I never even knew about."

Stephano says a hotel bar in northern Michigan apparently liked his clip the best.

"I was picked to do their New Year's Eve party for $2,500. I wasn't picked, my video was picked if that makes sense."

Right before the event, the comedy booker called the client with bad news.

"'I'm so sorry but Stephano's father passed away,'" he said the email read.

But the good news was, the talent agency had another comic that could make the gig. At this point, they couldn't cancel, so that comic did the show.

The show Stephano never even knew existed. But the hotel still wanted Stephano for their St. Patrick's Day party.

"'Two-thousand dollars," Stephano said. "They sold me again."

On March 16, the club manager gets a call.

"'Stephano had an accident,'" he said. "'He's off the road now."

But luckily the agency had another fill in comic ready again.

A month later, the hotel bar manager contacted Stephano directly via email, expressing her condolences. 

 "I'm so sorry to hear about your dad passing and your string of bad string of luck lately," he said the email read.

 "I email her back and said 'Who the heck are you,'" Stephano said.

 Remember, Stephano was never told he was booked on these gigs! He didn't know he was on their website. 

It's happened to other comics as well.

"The hook is my video," Fryman said. "The video they view on the website gets the client to purchase that guy on the video. They lie about that guy's name, do a contract.  The week of the show they send in a $200 guy and keep all the money."

The Disgruntled Clown caught him red-handed. 

"As I'm driving to the place he calls me and says your gig is canceled," he said. "And I'm like what?"

Bill Green or Chuck Wozlick, the guy from the comedy agency said the place had decided at the last minute not to go with the comedian. Bummer,  but....

"I'd already gotten a hotel room in that town," said the Clown. "The same hotel where the gig is going, so I stopped. I pulled right into the hotel parking lot with the clown mobile."

And he sees his face on the marquis. The comedy night is still on.

"He's got another comic there," he said. "But my stuff is there that I'm coming."

The Disgruntled Clown says the agency used him as the bait and switched the comic. He spoke to the manager.

"I said to the guy, 'Hey, I'm the clown.' 'Oh, but you were in an accident,'" The Disgruntled Clown said. "I said 'An accident, I don't know. I'm doing ok right now." 

Then there are the comics like Billy Ray Bauer who ended up filling in for a comic who had an accident or whose father had died.

"'We're so glad you could make it here at the last minute.'" Bauer said. "And in each case I would say to the owner, 'I was booked into this gig months ago."

And when the comics called Chuckleboy to complain, they say he delivered a nasty punch line.

Stephano: "He goes 'What are you going to do to me. Beat me up?'"

Disgruntled Clown: "He said what can you do about it?' It tees me off every time."

Most of these comics spend their time on the road, plus they live all over the country.  All they knew was this booker was in Michigan. 

Nobody had his real name. His office address?  A  post office box. But Rob Wolchek found him.

Real name: Jason Frey. He lives in a house in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.  

You've heard of a running joke?  Here comes a running joker back from a morning jog.

"I'm going in the house," Frey said. "But if you want to talk to me I'll set up an interview with you."

Wolchek: "No, I'd like to talk to you now."

I guess Jason's not ready for a heckler.  He wants to get his act together.

"I'd be more than happy to answer any questions," Frey said. "I know it's fun to catch the guy when he's running and coming back from a jog."

You ought to know fun, Jason. You're the comedian and the booking agent.

Wolchek: "Why do you use these fake names?"

Frey: "What fake names?"

Wolchek: "Chuck Wozniak or Wozlick and Bill Green."

Frey: "I have agents who work for me."

"These aren't real guys," Wolchek said. "There's no Chuck Wozlick."

"Well I have always been Chuck Wozlick," Frey said. "Everybody knows that."

Nobody knew that. In fact, all of the comics I spoke to only knew you by your fake names.  

No one knew your real name, Jason Frey.

Wolchek: "Well, why do you use fake names?"

"I didn't want to be the comedian and booking agent," Frey said. "I didn't want to be both."

Wolchek: "Because it's unethical."

Frey: "It's not unethical."

Wolchek: "OK, so this is you."

Frey: "That's me."

Wolchek: "So you also use that name."

"Oh yeah. I have a marketing team I pay to come up with websites," Frey said. "It's all about marketing everybody knows that."

"If anybody has complaints, you send them my way. I want 100 percent happy customers."

Wolchek: "But who are they going to talk to?  You, or are they going to talk to Jason Frey or ... "

"You could have definitely called the office," Frey said. "Anytime you want to talk to me, call the office."

"Who's going to answer the phone," Frey said. "I'm going to answer the phone most times."

"You're going to answer," Wolchek said. "Who are you going to be, Jason?"

The comedian videos have disappeared from Jason Frey's websites, although he and his attorney claim everything in this story is wrong.

His Facebook and YouTube videos have been deleted. 

Jason claims he has other agents working for him, he questions the credibility of some of the comics in the story. 
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