Helium Filled With Laughs


Would you trade a career in commodities for comedy?

Marc Grossman has … sort of. While Grossman still serves as a stocks/options trader for an area proprietaryfirm, it was when he took stock of the local comedy-club scene that he exercised his own option of a quasi-career change.

"I'd been trading for nine years and had nothing – nothingtangible – to show for it," says the 31-year-old entrepreneur. "And going to comedy clubs was something I always enjoyeddoing." But he couldn't find his fill in Philly – at least not in Center City. The Gladwynne resident gladly took on the challenge – along with his wife, Jana – of jumping on the comedic joystick that is now his Center City joke exchange: The party balloons of Helium are nailing nationwide talent at its Sansom Street site.

Sure there are other clubs in the area, but how many attract what Grossman calls "A-talent – national headliners withnational credits"?

To his own credit, Grossman concedes that summer may nothave been the ideal time to commit to a club, "but it's better thanI expected and customer feedback is also better than I expected."

But it hasn't been all laughs along the way; Jana was diagnosedwith Hodgkin's disease in January 2004 while interning atHackensack Medical Center, finishing up her doctoral dissertation as a clinical-health psychology major at Yeshiva University.

Funny, how life goes; the irony is not lost on either of the clubowners as she worked on her paper about "Post-Traumatic StressSymptoms in Survivors of Childhood Cancer."

But having a comedy club to be concerned about has helpedcure the blahs. Punchlines as panacea? It couldn't hurt – andhas helped, says Grossman.

"She's such a star," says Marc of Jana. "She's handled it sowell."

Will they both be able to handle the huge egos allegedly attendantto top comics? No problems so far, says Grossman of the"great comics" he's been working with, with a big advisorialassist in the biz from Louis Lee, proprietor of the MinneapolisAcme Comedy Club.

And while many debate whether the market has reached itspeak, Grossman has this to say about what is the acme of his life: Tell a friend. Are the Grossmans having the last laugh on the comedyscene? Maybe not the last – but definitely the latest.


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