(CBS) – Making money by making people laugh is one of the hardest jobs out there, But Mary Lindsey has become a pro.

For years, Lil Rel Howery was working in the stockroom at Victoria’s Secret.

Now he’s on the comedy fast track, working on a pilot and shooting a Comedy Central special.

How did he get there?

Mary Lindsey.

Once an executive with the Chicago Board of Trade, Lindsey was dating a man who said this to her: “I think we should open a comedy club because there is no platform for African-American comics.”

And so they did. All Jokes Aside became a destination, propelling the careers of Chris Rock, Steve Harvey and Dave Chappelle.

“I came from a very white world to a very black world. And I was like “OK, I got this. I can do this,” Lindsey says.

She’s a tough task master who times every comedian and kicks off the ones who go too long. She also takes great pride in crafting the careers of comedians like Howery.

“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have been on TV since ’06 if it weren’t for this club,” he says.

Jokes and Notes is located on Martin Luther King Drive in Bronzeville.

Lindsey’s story is going to be the focus of a documentary called “Phunny Business.” The film paints her as being very tough. But she says without that toughness the club and the subsequent careers wouldn’t have happened.