2024 Impact 50 Honoree: Michael Smardak

Outback Presents

BIZ PHILOSOPHY: “Have fun. I just want to book shows.”
FIRST JOB IN THE BIZ: Working for Bill Reid and Bobby Melatti with Cellar Door


Outback Presents is killing it when it comes to comedy. And that’s no funny business. President Michael Smardak has a list of accomplishments to back that up including celebrating the 10 year milestone of the Nashville Comedy Festival in April and “raising over $100,000 for the Nashville Predators Foundation through our shows at Bridgestone Arena and F&M Bank Arena.”

And then there’s Nate Bargazte’s “Be Funny Tour,” produced by Outback Presents, which is breaking countless records. In the span of four days in January he broke records at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena (26,793 tickets over two shows; $1.95 million gross); Cincinnati’s Heritage Bank Center (28,226 tickets over two shows; $2.2 million gross) and Charlotte, North Carolina’s Spectrum Center (24,588 tickets over two shows, $1.8 million gross).

Smardak shouts out two other comedians, saying, “We are proud to have produced F&M Bank Arena’s first sold-out concert with Bert Kreischer [an April 13 show that sold 4,733 tickets and grossed $309,429, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports] and broke the concert sales and gross record with Leanne Morgan” [two shows April 25-26 that sold 9,409 tickets and grossed $621,815].”

Smardak has been in the live industry for 35 years, with highlights over the past decades including co-creating the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” and co-promoting “Nashville Rising” for flood relief in 2010.

“Our company’s focus and priority on tour deals has proven to be a positive model for our ownership group of Brian Dorfman, Leigh Feuerstein, Eli Ullum, and myself,” Smardak says, explaining his mission statement. “We’ve had great success bringing shows to secondary and tertiary markets and finding opportunities with underserved assets whether it’s an artist, a venue, or a market.”

Meeting that goal, Outback Presents — which ranked No. 7 on Pollstar’s 2024 Q1 promoters chart — is hosting the second annual 312 Comedy Festival in the Chicago area this fall. Stay tuned for the lineup. Upcoming tours include Shane Gillis’ first arena trek and Nikki Glaser’s “The Good Girl” stand-up outing, which concludes with a Dec. 28 gig at the Ryman Auditorium.