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Near-death experience leads comic to ‘America’s Got Talent’


Wendy Liebman is so funny and successful, she could be a judge on a TV talent show. Instead, she’s a contestant on “America’s Got Talent” this season.

I was surprised when I saw her on the show, so I asked Liebman (who performs Friday and Saturday at The Venetian) for the inside story. She began with a one-liner.

“I did it because I wanted more exposure, and I’ve never performed at Radio City Music Hall before, and I’ve never had a million dollars,” she said.

But that’s only part of the story.

Here’s what really happened:

“I sort of had a near-death experience in December. My husband and I were hit by a drunk driver. Six cars were totaled. The woman in the car next to us died. It was right next to me. It could have been me,” Liebman said.

Soon after that, her father survived a heart attack.

Liebman, 53, did an inventory of her life.

“I thought, ‘I need to be taken a little more seriously as a comedian,’ which is ironic,” she said. “I feel like life is short, and let’s do this, because this is my gift, and I need to re-gift.”

Liebman has seen other comedians’ careers “go through the roof” after appearing on “America’s Got Talent.”

“I’ve been having the time of my life, Doug. Who knows what’s going to happen next; but I made it through to the next round, so I get to perform live at Radio City sometime in August.”

Liebman said her psyche was really shaken by those traumatic events.

“My husband said, ‘It’s like being on a conveyor belt, and you’re next,’ ” she said.

I told her it was funny she reacted to tragedy by working harder. She credited her family for that.

“I’m trying to be a good role model for my stepsons, who are 19 and 23 now. I’ve helped raise them since they were 4 and 8,” Liebman said. “I’m showing them I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, my comfort zone being bed.”

She said people who see her and Caroline Rhea perform on the same bill this weekend at The Venetian should realize how much work is involved in comedy.

“It’s hard doing stand-up. The traveling is what gets to me. After the show, I think I might just Skype all my performances.”

SUPPORTING THE LOCALS

If you want to support local filmmaking and see some movie stars, you can do both tonight.

Lola Pictures is screening a new Nevada-filmed movie, “The Motel Life,” at Inspire Theatre. First, there will be a 6:30 cocktail reception, followed by the movie, then a panel Q&A with actor Stephen Dorff, co-director Gabe Polsky, and writer Willy Vlautin.

The event costs $60 at the door. It’s part of a series of events in the Las Vegas Film Festival. For more on the film fest, check out LVFF.com.

LGBT CLUBBING

The newest LGBT nightclub on the Strip, Equalibrium, launches Friday night in the Tommy Wind Theater, taking the place of Krave, across from the Monte Carlo hotel-casino, according to the family-owned Wind Entertainment.

Wind sent out a news release Wednesday saying the club “will feature a blend of nightclub atmosphere and production show talent, molded into an entertainment concept that will captivate its audience (with) the most alluring bar staff, fun and flirty dancers, all working in sync with the hottest international DJs.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.