Kevin Clancy Tapped For Comedy Leadership Role At Barstool Sports

Following the huge news last week that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy had bought back his controlling stake in the company from Penn Entertainment, Barstool Sports is already making changes on the exec front. Barstool Sports has upped Barstool Sports New York founder Kevin Clancy, aka KFC, to GM of Comedy at the company.

With Portnoy only recently gaining back a controlling stake in the company, Clancy’s responsibilities (and even his title which was given to him prior to the sale) could be changing over time but going forward he will be focused on expanding the company’s footprint in the comedy world, specifically in the stand up comic scene, in a much more hands on way. As part of this new position, he will also be helping several other podcasts, brands, and shows achieve the same level of success he and the other Barstool OGs have been lucky enough to see.

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Clancy has been at Barstool Sports for almost 15 years now starting in 2009 when he launched Barstool New York, the first piece of the company to branch out of Boston, where it originated. In 2012, he launched Barstool’s first podcast, which he flippantly & regrettably named “KFC Radio.” In the decade+ since starting the podcast, he also created Answer The Internet (a successful YouTube series and adult party game), One Minute Man, a short form social media video series that has amassed over 1 billion views, and hosts Barstool Radio, which is currently a top 10 comedy podcast in the US. In 2016, he began going on the road with KFC Radio live, selling out comedy clubs and theaters from NYC to LA.

In recent years, Clancy along with his podcast KFC Radio have focused on the standup comedy scene and giving a platform to its current stars and up and comers.

“KFC radio has helped me in my career immensely” said comedian Chris Distefano. “Getting to be heard by the barstool audience is huge for a comedian. KFC radio has always had their doors open for new talent too which is always cool to see. I’m realizing now i don’t even know KFC or Feits real name and i don’t think anyone does “

“KFC & Feitelberg were big supporters of Are You Garbage early on. Which was awesome. They we’re cool enough to invite us on KFC Radio and introduce us to their huge following. Always a blast with them, Over the last few years they’ve done a lot to showcase NYC comics. Great dudes,” said Kevin Ryan from the podcast Are you Garbage.

In an interview with Deadline, Clancy talked about how his interest in taking on a more leadership role in the company began at the top of the year way before the recent sales talk when Barstool decided to restructure leadership dynamic. Part of this restructure involved implementing new GM roles throughout each branch of the comedy with comedy being one of those branches to receive a GM. For Clancy, he had seen this song and dance before and wasn’t super motivated by yet another outsider trying to tell him what to do when it comes to content.

“I kept hearing about how comedy would be one of these branches and how they were going to bring in a Gm of comedy and not really knowing what that means,” Clancy said. “I had been around long enough at Barstool where we have had heads of content, heads of production, operations and all these different titles and managers of sorts who try to come in and implement new stuff. I’m pretty cooperative guy and I had trusted you and listened to each person brought each time a new person was tapped with this role.”

“Without fail six months down the road that person would get a new gig or get fired and here I am having changed all my content cause some random person said so and now what. I just got to a point where I’m never going to listen to anyone else ever again (when it comes to content) with the exception of Portnoy or Erika (Ayers Badan), I am going to do my content the way I see best.”

So while the GM search was under way, Clancy says he just couldn’t see himself listening to another outsider telling him how to do his content, and was ready to go in and tell everyone he wasn’t planning on listening to this person and wanted to do his own thing. But as all of this was is in motion, Dan Katz aka Big Cat was preparing a move to Chicago with plans of bringing a ton of the content people with him and those that would be staying in New York began to express their worries of where that left the New York office. Clancy says he saw an opportunity to step up as a leader in the New York office and saw this position as that way to send that message he planned to be more involved on the Barstool corporate side of things especially when it comes to comedy.

“I just went to Erika and told her, “I hear you are looking for a GM, why not me,” Clancy said. “She was just like, “I didn’t even consider asking because it does involve a corporate side to things which I didn’t think you wanted to do,” and I said if it involves excel spreadsheets and pivot tables and conference calls all day, maybe you are right. But I have just as good connections as anybody in the comedy world, externally and internally. I know the company better then anyone you could hire, so as long as its not too much corporate work, let me do it and I will work with everybody here where I can not only grow my stuff but there shows too.”

So even with the new title and job still being sorted out, Clancy began taking on new responsibilities that included adding three to five meetings to his schedule a day. But as he began getting use to these new duties the big news dropped that Penn Entertainment was signing a new multi-billion dollar deal with ESPN and that Portnoy would be buying back his controlling stake in the company from Penn and owning it outright.

Even with his new title potentially changing down the road, Clancy has a clear idea of how he wants to build out this vision of where Barstool can take comedy, both internally and externally.

“I’m getting together with the content people now and being like lets just do it,” Clancy said. “All of us who succeeded, we didn’t have a lot of this, we just did it and if it didn’t work we pivoted and if we needed to change its fine. I threw my hat in the ring and got picked for this job and was ready to do it their way but now I get back to doing it my way and just kind of get back to Barstool basics of just taking the ball and running with it and just adjust on the fly.”

As for where he sees them going in the comedy world, Clancy sees comedy as almost a “Barstool within a Barstool” branch where they grow it and monetize it with all the talent they have internally and know externally. Clancy points to podcasts and shows like Out of Order, ANUS, Out and About, Please End This and Son of Boy Dad as content in house that will lead the way, coupled with the next great creators they hope to find as well.

“We also have this new live stand up show that the Out of Order guys host called Dollar Slices and what I wanted was to have them do an underground, grimy, funny New York City stand up show every month where they are hosting and its featuring all these hot up and comers and could be sold as the best new scene in New York for comic talent.”

As for the future, Clancy says he has two dreams for where they take comedy. One would be that in the world of actual stand up comedy, where comics are having to sacrifice so much before they actually make it early in their careers, he would like it where he could marry the internet to the stand up world where Barstool could help these guys thrive and make some money early on in their careers instead of way down the road.

The second thing he has big plans for is the idea of turning stand up shows into sporting events bringing the best of both worlds together.

“As guys in New York City, we take for granted the comedy scene so badly,” Clancy says. “You could just walk outside and go to the Comedy Cellar, pay $15 bucks and you get to see the best comics in the world, seven days a week that range from superstars at SNL working out their material to regulars always up on stage night to night, to new guys just getting their start. I started to realize if I’m really going to marry the internet to that comedy world I think we should start live-streaming comedy and I think there is a world where we can bring the best comedy in the world to every house in America.”

His idea is less about the one person you are tuning in for on Netflix and more about the comedy club experience where you film it as if you are in the audience the same way it feels like when you watching a basketball or baseball game. But not only that you have certain features you would see on a sports broadcast like Clancy and his KFC Radio co-host John Feitelberg in the green room interviewing comics as they come off to ask them how they did and also having a host on the internet breaking down each set.

“In my life, I feel like there are sports and right beneath that are people that follow their favorite comics podcasts the way they follow their favorite teams,” Clancy said. “If I can bring that to those fans and up the production level and bring that Barstool essence to it and we became the guys who invented the live-streaming comedy event that you can watch in your house, that would be a lasting legacy for me. To elevate the industry for all the comics and to bring live-streaming of live comedy to your computer or TV screen, those would be the two major things to blaze that trail on.”

While Clancy has big plans for where Barstool as a company can take the comedy scene, he still has high hopes for his own podcast, KFC Radio, which has grown year in and year out and has high hopes of it being on that same level as another popular podcast when it comes to putting comics on the map.

“For KFC Radio specifically, my dream would be and Bert Kreischer described it best as an east coast Joe Rogan platform,” Clancy says. “Obviously, we are nowhere near his level but the idea where if you are on the west coast and promoting your special, you go on Rogan and he can tap you and he’s that kingmaker and make you the next big thing but if you are on the east coast and you want that promotion, KFC Radio is kind of the east coast version of that.”

“The beauty of Barstool is whatever you are good and whatever we think there’s a marketplace for we’ll go do that. We have done writing, we’ve done audio, we’ve done a techno tour, we’ve done reality shows and live comedy, anything and everything people want, we can do.”

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