Byron Allen Folks, better known professionally as just Byron Allen (born April 22, 1961), is an American comedian and television producer, who founded and is the chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. television production company Entertainment Studios.
Allen was born in Detroit, Michigan. He began doing stand-up comedy as a teenager in Los Angeles, California.
Allen’s interest in show business began during his childhood, when he would accompany his mother to NBC studios in Burbank where she worked as a publicist. Free to roam the sound stages, Allen would sneak onto The Tonight Show set, sit behind Johnny Carson’s desk and play talk show host.
At age 14, Allen put together his first stand-up routine and began appearing on amateur night at comedy clubs throughout the Los Angeles area.
Comedian Jimmie Walker saw Allen's stand-up act and was so impressed that he invited the 14-year-old comedian to join his comedy writing team alongside promising young comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman. At age 18, Allen made his television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Allen holds the distinction of being the youngest standup comedian ever to have performed on the show.
Watching Allen’s network television debut were the producers of NBC’s Real People, who were so taken with his comfortable, relaxed style that they made him an offer the very next day to co-host the show.
While Allen was getting his feet wet as a television personality, he was also learning the ins and outs of television production. The business of advertising and syndication, he learned in the trenches by personally calling station owners, programming directors and advertisers, one-by-one and market-by-market from his dining room table.
Mr. Allen’s foray into television production began in Los Angeles in 1993 when he founded Entertainment Studios with the launch of his first series — Entertainers with Byron Allen—a weekly, one-hour series profiling the current stars of film and television.
Entertainment Studios produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 32 television series, making it the largest independent producer/distributor of first-run syndicated programming for broadcast television globally.
Among the company’s top programs are: Emmy-winning Cars.TV, Emmy-nominated America's Court with Judge Ross and We the People With Gloria Allred, Comics Unleashed, Comedy.TV, Beautiful Homes & Great Estates, Pets.TV, Recipe.TV, Career Day and The Young Icons. His company also made its first foray into scripted programming, producing two weekly primetime sitcoms that are slated to debut in September 2012: The First Family and Mr. Box Office.
In 2009, Allen became the first television entrepreneur to own and launch a portfolio of six 24-hour HD television networks simultaneously. The six networks include Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV, Cars.TV, ES.TV, and MyDestination.TV.
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