Preview: Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project

Filed Under Movies, Stand-Up Comedy, The Comedy Festival

“Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” portrays a performer who’s one of the last of his kind, but who’s still packing them in today. It’s also a little bit about how casino entertainment has changed (Bob Newhart even sounds nostalgic for how the mob runs a showroom). The doc captures Don’s life story, but it’s not much for looking too closely at why or how Don does what he does.

But considering some of the rarely seen archival footage in the doc, it’s hard to be disappointed. Like this exclusive clip, which talks about Johnny Carson and his relationship with Rickles:

Of course, there’s plenty from contemporary comics too about Rickles influence. Check out the lesson that Sarah Silverman claims to have learned from Rickles, delivered completely deadpan:

Though there much made of how Rickles isn’t offensive when he does his bits about racial stereotypes, director John Landis knows how fine a line that can be and how times have changed. When the infamous Tonight Show cigarette box incident is shown, the part when Johnny Carson imitates a black guy is cut.

A fair amount of the doc was filmed at last year’s Comedy Festival including Rickles performance and several of the interviews with comics (although there’s none of the Ceasar Palace Laurel Award ceremony, where I first learned about the project).

“Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” debuts on HBO tomorrow at 8PM.

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Posted by David Michael Thurston on 10/16  at  11:46 AM

Don Rickles, Bill Hicks, Steven Write, Dane Cook, and Andrew Dice Clay when I hear those names I think of my niece, Malory and a finger painting she made. It was stick figures and a sun in the corner. Hanging on the refrigerator it looked like my old paintings that I gave my mom when I was a kid. “Is it as good as Fank-oid-ite,” she said as well as a four year old can say Frank Loyd Wright.
  “Yes it is, even better probably. You are awesome. You are special.” I say that to my four year old niece, because that’s what you say to a child when they act like a child. That’s what they are supposed to do.
  Don Rickles was a genius as was Frank Loyd Wright. He pointed out ethnic differences that other wise went un-noticed. He made fun of the audience. He was ground breaking. He was cutting edge - at the time. But to do that today is not cutting edge. To make fun of some ones ethnicity today, in a culture that celebrates diversity, is totally inappropriate. Additionally it is sixty years out of date. So if you want to make fun of the audience, especially because of their race you have missed the boat. You look like a kid with a finger painting claiming to be Frank Loyd Write.
  Rickles is a genius but those who came after and didn’t know how to do it right have damaged comedy beyond repair. To this day people don’t go to clubs because they don’t want to get made fun of. They don’t wan to sit in the front row, especially if they have a distinguished feature, strong ethnic look or any uniqueness. Don’t make fun of the audience. It’s an old trick. It’s someone else trick and you’re hurting the industry.
  Bill Hick, genius, honest and ground breaking for the time. He said everything that needed to be said about porn and masturbation. There fore you don’t need to say anything about it. It makes everyone feel uncomfortable to come out on stage talk about that subject. It might be funny to your and your friends that know you but the audience doesn’t know you. You are a stranger. Be vulnerable on stage but be vulnerable about something other than that. Be vulnerable about something that no one has talked about. Hicks was cutting edge because he went against the culture, he talked about what everyone wouldn’t talk about. Today everyone talks about it so you aren’t new. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if Hicks were alive today he would say, “There’s too much porn. Get a life. Get out of your house, you whining, distracted, unattractive sons of Satan.” Don’t talk about porn. Do talk about a new topic of vulnerability.
  Steven Wright had a low energy because he has low energy. He was being himself. You need to do the same thing: Be yourself. Be your energy. Too many comics are taking the stage and waiting for the audience to applaud after saying one line. Steven Wright has taken a good chunk of the jokes that are going to be able to survive that energy level in the same way that Carrot Top has taken any prop jokes that are going to survive. Furthermore, we live in a society of impatient. Research shows that if the average person can’t log onto a web site in 7 seconds they go to another web site. As a comic you have got to be Google efficient. You got to deliver fast enough to keep their attention. You are doing yourself a favor by brining comedy with energy, your energy.
  Dane Cook is a great example of high energy comedy. You can see his influence at almost every open mic in the country. But again as soon as you look like Dane Cook you are no longer on the cutting edge. The audience has seen it. Be your energy.
  Andrew Dice Clay? I personally don’t like his material at all and I don’t see any redeemable quality in his work. However, he did sell out arenas so he must have figured something out. My personal views aside, he has said everything filthy that needed to be said. Don’t try make a career that was already be capitalized on. You look silly. Be smart. Be cleaver. Be original. If you have an original idea and then you take it as dirty as possible it starts to sound like you are lifting Clay’s material even if you have a new idea. Don’t go blue just for the sake of going blue. It’s been done.
  In conclusion, don’t make fun of the audience, don’t talk about porn and masturbation, don’t come out with no energy say one thing and wait for the audience to adore you, don’t be Dane Cook, and don’t be dirty just to be dirty. Do appreciate the audience and thank them for coming out. Hope that they do and they bring people so we don’t pass out so many fliers, post and repost bulletins. Do talk about vulnerabilities that you have that no one else has talked about. Do go out and earn your laughs. Do smart, creative, original funny comedy. Do create the new thing. And if you still feel like you need to make fun of people, talk about porn and masturbation, with no energy or some one else’s personality and be filthy about it than all I have to say to you is, “You are awesome. You’re special aren’t ya.”

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