Magazine article Black Enterprise

Funny Business: Comedy Is the Catalyst for J. Anthony Brown's Family-Owned Empire

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Funny Business: Comedy Is the Catalyst for J. Anthony Brown's Family-Owned Empire

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

COMEDIAN J. ANTHONY BROWN HAS BEEN DOING WHAT he does best for nearly 40 years. Not wanting to be known as your run-of-the-mill entertainer, however, Brown launched a company, It's Just a Joke (www.janthonybrown.com), in 2002 to expand his brand. Though comedy still remains his bread and butter, the 57-year-old is serious when it comes to using a portion of his earnings to build the company.

He sold a hodgepodge of items under the It's Just a Joke umbrella, ranging from men's clothing to a signature hot sauce. But in 2008, Brown decided to merge his talents and take an ownership stake in the world of comedy at the same time. He spent about $500,000 to secure a location, renovate, and gain permits to open the J Spot Comedy Club in Los Angeles.

"So many entertainers attach their names to products and services but when they pass on, their name still lives, but they fail to continue to earn their royalties," he says. "I would much rather leave everything to family."

To ensure that his company does in fact become a legacy that will be passed on to future generations, Brown brought his son, 37-year-old Anthony Terrell Rivers, into the fold. "My father's the money man, but I'm the one that makes it all happen," says Rivers, who manages the day-to-day operations, which consists of overseeing the company's five full-time and 10 part-time employees, determining what comedians will perform, and making sure customers' demands are met. Brown's celebrity appeal is perhaps his greatest contribution to the club's success, while Rivers is investing sweat equity. …

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