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Don Rickles’ Performance Review at Saban Theater in LAt on Jan 30: Part One

February 1, 2016

The Rickles show!
BACKSTORY: Okay, let’s look at the basics. Here is an 89-year old guy, sitting in a chair with a cane beside him and a big band behind him. An iconic comedian who created an oiriginal way to insult people, and play into racial stereotypes without being racist. (I think people lkaugh at the stereotype and the persopn who thinks that way, not themselves, which is the unique skill Rickles has perfected. A sold out show in a 1,000 person theater (The audience was a wide age-range, the older people sitting in the nicer seats, the younger ones in the balcony). And Steve Martin, Martin Short (sitting in a balcony safely isolated from their fans. Bob Newhart. And unfortunately, I went pookie-in-my-pants-and-I’m-a-cheap prick-who-is-a-sponger-who-doesn’y-tip Tommy Lasorda. Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes were there, Bob Saget (Who care?), Brad Grey and Jason Alexander.

So you have to say, outside of as tribute night,how many 89-year old comedians can fill a room and draw a diverse and appreciative audience? I think in many ways, and this is how I feel, coming to a show and seeing Rickles live for the first time, is a way to show how you appreciated his style of comedy.

The curtain lifted and he was sitting there at center stage with the band behind him.

And the immediate standing-0 and thunderous applaused and cheers. The first of three ort four throughout the night.

The bottom line is: You have to be different and original, and he created amake-believe world that provides you as release and draws youy out of yourself and then back to yourself with a reflection that gives you another insight.

The performance divided up in segments, more of a propulsive TED-Talk, one-man-show.
1.) three songs (Clearly most of them filler, the basic and tired “Nice Guy,” one dealing with love after he talks about his mother, and a third where he talks about Jimmy Cagney and behind him is a screen showing him in the Navy in ww2 during the Philippines as well as him meeting various presidents. These time-killing numbers are typical Vegas schmaltzy stuff you had to endure even when he was healthy.

2.) some insult banter in between

3.) Personal recollections and anecdotes, his audition for “Run Silent, Run Deep,” and being frightened when Clark Cable responded from the darkness to his lines.

4.) a couple career-highlights video presentations (slamming the crowd at Reagan’s inaugural: the short Rodney Allen introduces him, then hands the mic to Rickles and says, “Be Funny.” Then Rickles says, “The only black kid who won’t grow up to be a basketball player.” Then later to Regean, “Am I going to fast for you Ronnie.”),along with Tonight show and Lettermen appearances. And another segment dedicated to Sinatra, where Sinatra does jokes but really isn;t funny–he didn’t have the comedic touch (an ability he envied–among many things, well in Dean Martin. Sinatra gets his laughs in the clips being an authority figfure.)

5.) The interspersed throughout the performance, doing his standard routines about having sex with his wife…”you be the wagon train and I’ll be the indian and she’s going. “Go Geronimo, go! And he did a couple variations on the same joke, “I’m the barge and she’s the dock…”

He still held the audience, which I would say felt largely protective of him. There was one moment where he explained the health issues with seven operations pn his leg, and said how he planned to be able to walk again. This got a huge cheer and applause. Then Rickles said, “I’m going to try to stand.”

This was a classic moment where the frail–and I don;t know if that’s a fair word, I lean to physically hampered–well, where what you fear is going to be a doddering old man falling ERUPTS INTO COMEDIC RICKLES! He leans on the cane and says, “Where is Jerry Lewis when I need him. (The loudly launches into an imitation of Lewis singing “You’lll never walk alone.”) Then after singing says to mock the horror of Lewis voice,”and the kids in the wheelchairs are trying to get up and get away.!” There, yes, there was magic only he could do!

And everyone applauded and he was hunched over, wobbling slightly on his cane and did the humping barge booming into his wife’s dock.” He was clearly struggling, then needed help to get back safely into his chair. And drew huge applause and a standing-o.

Yeah, a different kind of Mr Warmth.

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