The Laugh Factory has found an edgy new comic force to give it a leg up in the digital age -- Larry King.
In an effort to reach a bigger online audience, the comedy club chain has partnered with Ora TV, the production house and digital video network behind the veteran broadcaster's talk show "Larry King Now."
The pact will result a slate of new comedy shows beginning its roll-out in the fall. Those programs will feature the 35-year-old Laugh Factory's stable of comics, and one of the new efforts will involve King.
The 80-year-old interviewer told The Times that he has long been a comedy fan and that comedians have been some of his favorite interviews. After he left his longtime home CNN in 2010 after 25 years on the network, one of his next moves was a stand-up comedy tour, in which he told yarns from his life and stories about newsmakers such as Moammar Kadafi, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Nixon.
"If I hadn't got into broadcasting, I would've done standup," King said, speaking from his Glendale studio. "There's no better kick than making people laugh."
The deal is expected to result in three to four new programs and also makes Ora TV the online home to about 50 videos from Laugh Factory's archive, including appearances by Dave Chappelle, Kevin Nealon and Tom Arnold.
It's the latest in a series of steps Ora TV has taken to boost its programming.
The New York company launched in 2012 with just one program -- "Larry King Now" on the Internet video hub Hulu -- and financial backing from the world's second richest man, the Mexican telecommunications titan Carlos Slim.
Since then it has produced shows with the likes of Jesse Ventura, Haylie Duff and William Shatner. The company currently has 15 shows airing or in the works, and has even put King back on TV in the United States through the cable network RT.
Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, who founded the chain in 1979 in Hollywood, said he hopes partnering with Ora TV will expose the comedians who frequent his venues to a larger audience.
"Laughter is such an international language," he said. "You can put something on and make people laugh and make people forget about the problems in their lives."
For the new slate, the companies are kicking around ideas for ways to pair King with the Laugh Factory's comics. One of the ideas involves stand-ups riding around Los Angeles in a car with the television staple. That concept has already proven a winner in the hands of Jerry Seinfeld, whose Web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is now in its fourth season.
Jon Housman, Ora's chief executive, admits their idea is similar in premise to Seinfeld's show, but King's involvement itself gives an extra twist.
"Driving with Larry is a very different experience," he said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun