A dubious honor? Maybe. But after years in the comedy trenches, Warren Durso is owning his title of “Ugliest Comic in America.”
“Once you’ve embraced ugly, there’s no place to go but up,” he says.
It stems from an Esquire magazine piece last year about the journeyman comedian who toils amid the rich and famous without getting that big break.
But he gets at least a little one in Las Vegas, where comedy promoter Joe Sanfelippo sets him up with a weekly showcase at the Plaza starting Sunday.
While they don’t expect most ticket-buyers to be current with the Esquire article, its theme gave them “a hook,” as Sanfelippo says, to promote the show and give it a theme.
There is one catch: a naked photo Esquire talked Durso into posing for. It’s going to be on T-shirts, and on sandwich boards on Fremont Street, allowing you to put your chin in a cut-out above Durso’s torso.
“I didn’t want to do it, but Esquire was like, ‘You’re baring your naked soul in our magazine,’ ” he recalls.
He decided, “You only get one shot. If anyone’s looking at me for acting or anything like that, I’m willing to do anything. I just put it out there as proof that, whatever the role calls for, I’ll do it.”
Durso burned through “24 cars in 20 years” as a stand-up road dog. He has played Las Vegas comedy rooms before, but not as a headliner.
He debuts in the Plaza’s main showroom at 9 p.m. Sunday, before moving into Bonkerz comedy club for a weekly gig Monday through Wednesday. …
This weekend brings the end of summer, and a trio of Las Vegas shows as well.
“Peepshow” is the highest-profile title, closing Sunday after four years at Planet Hollywood.
Two more theatrical “jukebox musicals” also will be gone, with their producers eyeing a future beyond the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
“The D*Word” comes to a conclusion Sunday at the Las Vegas Hotel, while “The 80s Show” was to take its final bow Wednesday at the V Theater.
Jeanie Linders, producer and creator of “The D*Word — A Musical (*Ditched, Dumped, Divorced, Dating),” is dumping the Shimmer Cabaret after less than two months. She wrote the show with the Shimmer in mind, but found it less welcoming than it was for the three years her “Menopause The Musical” played there.
“This isn’t a Vegas show,” Linders says in an email, even though in the same email she says she plans to brand it in other cities as “The Las Vegas party show comes to …”
“My goal was to get the quote n’ go, and if by some chance it hit, or was picked up and moved, to commit to carry on,” she writes.
One could argue — as I did in my “D*Word” review — the show that was promised wasn’t the one delivered. Those expecting another cabaret romp in the “Menopause” vein had to sit through a lot of plotless chatter to catch the jokes.
I didn’t expect Linders to see it that way: “Since I was there eight years ago, what passes for theater is really shows ‘in concert’ with a lot of T&A,” she writes. “The concept of dialogue is a moot point.”
Linders also says she failed to take day clubs into account as competition for younger women’s attention.
We’ll see what happens in the three cities that see “D*Word” in October: Philadelphia, and West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, Fla. Casts for all three editions rehearsed here.
Another producer/writer, Sirc Michaels, doesn’t yet have “The 80s Show” booked out, but says, “I want to do something bigger with it. … It’s kind of a ‘pop-up’ show. We could put it anywhere. In any kind of place.”
In Las Vegas, “we’re so small we kind of get lost in the shuffle a little,” Michaels adds. Weekend bookings in smaller markets could attract more attention than competing with “much bigger shows with bigger marketing.”
Michaels did break ground by developing a new work — as “Legwarmers” in October — in front of an audience, and keeping the doors open as it evolved and improved.
You can argue whether that was fair to early customers, and Michaels says the process “was in some ways a great experience, and in some ways I gained white hairs from it.”
Still, it was refreshing to see something created on the Strip, rather than landing here way down the line.
As for “Peepshow,” don’t hold your breath for a Sunday cameo by Holly Madison, who branded the revue through her E! cable reality show and tireless promotion. But don’t write off the chance of seeing either “Peepshow” or its current star, Coco Austin, return to the Strip.
“(W)e are exploring every opportunity to keep the project alive and bring ‘Peepshow’ back to Las Vegas in an exciting, new incarnation,” co-producer Scott Zeiger said in an email. “We look forward to sharing more about ‘Peepshow’s’ future very soon.”
One scenario working the grapevine has “Peepshow” or a Coco show with a new name resurfacing at the Quad, pushing one show in residence to earlier in the evening and another one out the door. …
A memorial service for burlesque queen Dixie Evans will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Palm Mortuary, 1325 N. Main St. It’s part of “Dixie Evans Week,” a multicity effort to raise money to cover medical bills and funeral expenses for Evans, who died Aug. 3.
Festivities include a 9 p.m. Saturday burlesque show at The Plaza. …
It’s a girl! Wait. We already knew that two weeks ago, when hypnotist Marc Savard talked about his plans to hypnotize his wife Joanna for the delivery of their fourth child.
The baby they’ve named Lorelle came Monday.
“It went longer than we expected,” Savard says of canceling Sunday’s show at the V Theater after Joanna went into labor.
Savard says Joanna was so disconnected from the pain, a nurse gave the late-arriving doctor a great review: “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.