Category: The Comedy Festival

What happens in Vegas…

Filed Under The Comedy Festival

I’m sure it’s been said at more than two shows here, but here’s the variations I’ve heard on this so far.

“gets text messaged to everyone.” - George Lopez

“is awesome, you should tell everybody you know.” - Robert Kelly

More to be updated as I remember/hear them.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

Triumph’s “Poopapalooza II”

Filed Under The Comedy Festival

Part two of my Insult Comedy Day was a fantastic two-hour-plus show with Triumph the Insult Comic dog. The show was in Caesar’s Coliseum, a venue designed with Celine Dion on mind. Triumph warned us not breath much in the Coliseum, we might catch secondhand suck. Elton John’s “Red Piano’ is another regular show there, but Triumph confided to us that he got a special viewing of Elton’s brown organ backstage.

Triumph laid into the Festival itself telling us Dave Chappelle, who canceled his festival appearance, was “flakier than Courtney Love’s pubic hair” and wondered how Mario Cantone could play a flamboyant gay man so well. Then he came to Dane Cook and he… hesitated. Triumph asked if he should, and while one girl screamed “He’s hot!”, some of us screamed “yes!” With a “Fuck it!”, he told us that “the only thing Tourgasm has in common with a real orgasm is the shame you feel afterward.”

Triumph didn’t spare himself either, asserting that he was not a puppet as “no self-respecting middle-aged man would crouch behind a podium and manipulate a puppet.” And then added, “...except Dick Cheney.”

Then Triumph buttfucked Sesame Street’s Ernie.

Jim Gaffigan took the stage and shared much of his material in his whispery uncomfortable audience voice including the classic “hot pockets.” My fave was his response to his recycling-obsessed wife asking if he washed out the soda can: “I haven’t showered myself today.”

Triumph then sang the charming song, “Cats are Cunts.” Just as the song was reaching is crescendo, Triumph was interrupted by an actor playing Caesar with his entourage, Cleopatra and a pair of centurions. There seemed to be a dispute about the language of the song, but Triumph was more interested in seeing how long he could make these roving actors stand on stage uncomfortably, sharing observations with them like “the last charity event Lewis Black attended was when Sarah Silverman give him a hand job” and following them up with a “I just feel like I can tell you this.” He also complimented the actors, saying they were very committed to their roles for $13 an hour. Caesar was finally permitted to finish the song with the Cats are Cunts line still intact, except apparently Caesar doesn’t swear. Triumph begrudgingly sung the last line, observing that In Vegas, you “can have all the cunt you want just don’t say it.” Then the coterie of faux Roman royalty was off to their chariot, “also known as the bus.”

Frank Caliendo then took the stage with some masterful impressions, including a couple I’ve never seen anyone do before including John Madden. I’m not usually one for impressionists, but the way he had them ping-pong off each other, almost making it conversational was impressive. Imitating every single silly voice Robin Williams does was a favorite in my comedy nerd heart.

Triumph returned with Lester of the ventriloquist act Willie Tyler and Lester as a replacement for Chappelle.

Then Triumph buttfucked Lester.

Lester told us that he was very mad at Chappelle because he was in a similar situation where WIllie Tyler held out for an extra $20 from Hollywood Squares and look at him now: “I get buttfucked by stupid Conan O’Brien shit and I have to blow Ernie.” Then we saw the threesome, which was even funnier to watch because it’s rather impossible to manipulate three puppets well with only two hands.

Harland Williams took the stage, whose stand-up I’ve never seen. I’m not a huge fan afterwards but I enjoy his randomness and how he embraced how filthy the night was becoming. My fave: “You ever stuff a bed full of Rice Krispees and then piss the bed? It’s snap, crackle, pop all night.”

Triumph came back and showed us some never aired bits of him covering the Democratic convention. The joy of seeing him making fun of strident protesters with a “for this you took off from Kinkos” was offset by how fucking nuts some of these people are. One particularly memorable part though was Michael Moore telling Triumph he can follow him into Bill O’Reilly’s studio but then disavowing that he ever invited them, resulting in Triumph getting kicked out. Draw your own conclusions.

Triumph wound up the night with a song accompanied by “Ladysmith Black Mambazo” asking previous targets for his jibes that fell from the public eye to “come back” Example:

Ricky Martin.
She banged, you sucked.
Now you’re somewhere
blowing George Michael for a buck.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

Don Rickles: “Mr. Warmth”

Filed Under Live Events, The Comedy Festival

When a comic of my generation uses a term like “Mr. Warmth”, it’s usually meant to be entirely ironic. But with Don Rickles, there’s a level of sincerity underneath it. Earlier in the day, Whoopi Goldberg described him as able to get away with his insult comedy because “there’s no malice” about it. It’s true, but there’s also a genuine care and like of people that comes through too, particularly at this late stage of his career and life.

The show will probably be the most Vegas-y of the shows I’ll see; there’s songs and a little soft shoe thrown into the mix. The delight of Rickles is, of course, his interactions and putdowns of the audience. One woman was told, “Are you a Japanese lady? If you’re not you better get your teeth fixed.” Even bits I feel I’ve seen a thousand times, such as Rickles doing a take after he tells a man his wife is stunning, are still hilarious. The laugh may come from recognizing something familiar, but to me it’s also still brutal to hear a performer just slam someone like that.

Rickles doesn’t spare his friends at all - chef Bobby Flay was in the audience and we were encouraged to go to Flay’s restaurant and to “get what I get, the runs!” Even someone with an apparent handicap could not escape Rickles. He told one apparently blind woman that he’d “speak to Jerry Lewis. I’ll get you on the show.”

Much of Rickles’ act has him reminiscing about his friends and his 47-year history in show business - and the people he mentions, damn, so many of them are gone. Carson, Sinatra, Dean. It’s lays real edge to when he talks about his annual Christmas plans with Bob Newhart and parenthetically adds “God willing.” To me, even some of his bits are stereotypes I don’t even know or remember - they’ll pass with him.

Another song saw him telling James Cagney to watch out for our young troups overseas in between verses of “Yankee Doodle Daddy.” His presence was so strong that I actually felt stirred when Rickles strongly asserted that we would win the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite my own misgivings about the war. Also particularly poignant are Rickles’ mentions of his mother, who he obviously adored for standing by him when other’s booed.

There’s still so much humor sprinkled throughout all this heartfelt material. He swung right from Yankee Doodle Dandy to sharing memories of serving two years in the Navy: “The was a Jap there, saying, ‘Where are you Jew?’ And we had a Pollock Captain going, ‘We’re over here!’”

The show is the whole package and I heard many comment afterward surprised at how much they enjoyed it. If you’re a fan or even if you’re curious, you should check him out when, God willing, he plays the Golden Nugget February next year. (As a side note, Dave Attell was also in attendance and was acknowledged from the stage by Rickles who thanked him for “paying full price for the ticket.”)

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)

Don Rickles Receives Caesars Palace Laurel Award

Filed Under The Comedy Festival

Prior to the Don Rickles show, they had a special dedication of the Caesars Palace Laurel Award for the man. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because it’s brand new. They’re essentially creating a walk of fame in front of the casino and Don Rickles was the first honoree.

While waiting for the event to begin, I met John Landis, who is working on a documentary on Don Rickles. Landis has known Rickles since 1969 when he was a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes. Landis passionately described that one of the reasons he’s doing the documentary is that most people don’t really know what Rickles does, that he’s not a stand-up. It’ll be a while before we see the doc, because he’s not going to finish the film until he captures Rickles beginning his run at the Golden Nugget, which starts in February. He also wants to capture the destruction of the Stardust hotel for the film. Can you guess the metaphor?

We also talked about the sketch group Elephant Larry and the Great Sketch Experiment now nearing it’s end on JibJab. He was very complimentary to the guys, but declined to pick his favorite no matter how much I conjoled him. So you’ll just have go to JibJab and think for yourselves. Also, Landis is among the most jovial, gregarious guy I’ve ever mets. One man was compelled to take a picture of him, even though, as Landis said, “You don’t even known who I am!”

Then, in love-it-or-hate-it Caesars fashion, Rickles was brought out in a procession of centurions, flanked by women more in belly-dancing attire than togas. And yes, trumpets. After some perfunctory remarks from Caesars and the TCF themselves, Whoopi Goldberg introduced Don stating, “No one else could get away with what Don did, because he had no malice.”

Then Don takes the stage and states at his age, “that these kinds of awards mean nothing.” After making fun of Robin William’s hyperactivity, he encouraged all to check out the Comic Relief show, which benefits Katrina victims, but “I won’t be there, I don’t believe in it. My house is OK.” Nope - no malice at all. Just funny.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

The Comedy Festival, Day 1 - Arrival

Filed Under The Comedy Festival

The Comedy Festival LogoNot to dis Wayne Newton, but when I think of Vegas I don’t always think of the greatest acts in the world - or at least the acts that I want to see. But the fact that there’s more or less nine shows I want to check out in the space of these four days means that I’ll be spending very little time at the craps tables, unlike my usual Sin City visits.

One thing I noticed at the airport that adds to the argument that we’re in a boom: Rolling Stone’s cover story in an exclusive interview with Borat’s Sacha Baron Cohen as himself. The only one as himself. Potential Borat backlash aside - (Friday night,  I heard “very nice” three times on my walk home, I love the movie but shut the fuck up), this is a follow up to last issue’s Daily Show cover. One of the conceits of the 80s was that comedy is the new rock and roll. Now, comedy is the new rap-funk-ska fusion. But the conceit is the same. This is, of course, assuming the cover of Rolling Stone still means something.

The Comedy Festival is taking place at Caesar’s Palace, and the regular layer of roman cheese is overlaid with slight accent of humor cheese, with much of the hotel staff wearing propeller beanies that sadly, haven’t caused anyone to collapse to the crowd in a convulsion of hilarity that requires medical attention. But here’s hoping.

One major bummer already: I’ve missed an event featuring Vegas-style fountains replicated by the web-popular duo of Mentos and diet, uh, “soda”. I’ll just have to go watch the Bellagio fountains and imagine. Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere also just pulled a prank in the pool that I just missed as well. It’d be hard to top the Baby Ruth in the pool bit from Caddyshack, but I’m sure he was up for it.

Tonight is my insult comedy night with shows from Don Rickles and Triumph’s “Poopapalooza II” - I can’t wait to be demeaned!

Also, there was a big announcement that HBO is jumping into the comedy broadband pool with AOL with, which sounds interesting although the name implies that it might be competitive with the news satire site being developed by IAC/InterActiveCorp and the Huffington Post. Hopefully I’ll hear a bit more about this as we go along. But there’s not a lot of elbow room in web comedy any more, huh?

Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)