“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.