Las Vegas can take care of one item on Wendy Williams’ Turning 50 bucket list, no problem.
If she wants to attempt stand-up comedy for the first time, it’s just a matter of choosing a casino. And The Venetian just happens to be launching a bundled women-of-comedy series called “Lipshtick.”
But that second item? The monster truck thing?
Not this weekend, anyway. Williams won’t have time after Friday’s show and a double dose of club-hosting Saturday, a day shift followed by “The World’s Largest Bachelorette Party” at Tao.
The syndicated TV host agrees stand-up is a natural leap from her radio and television work. “I do feel a little bit of pressure because I’m not a comedian. But then again I don’t feel pressure, because I still have my day job,” she says with a laugh.
So Friday’s single show at The Venetian checks off half the challenge created by “The Wendy Williams Show” producers (who include her manager-husband) goading her into doing something special for her 50th birthday on July 18: “You can’t just not do anything, you’ll look back and be sorry.”
But the other half is the monster truck. What’s that all about?
“I’ve never driven a monster truck and I’ve always had a fascination with them,” she says.
“I don’t go to monster-truck car shows or anything like that,” she adds. “But they’re just big and powerful and I want to see what it’s like to see the world from that high up. And the wheels captivate me. The wheels are like a door frame.”
So a crew from her TV show will follow her to New Jersey to drive on a privately owned track. No crushing old Toyota Tercels like beer cans though.
If you try that and “you hit it the wrong way, I know the monster truck will topple over,” she explains.
So for now it’s stand-up comedy, where she hopes to crush a live audience instead.
If it seems surprising that Williams hasn’t done stand-up before, it’s perhaps because of the similar gift for gab it takes to host 23 years of radio, then five years of syndicated daytime TV. And she did get a foothold in comedy clubs during the radio years, hosting a Wednesday night stand-up show at Carolines on Broadway in New York City without actually doing prepared material.
“People have always told me I’m funny,” she says. “I don’t know what that means, but after seeing my share of comedians I do know that being funny can either mean telling knock-knock jokes, or you can be funny telling real stories that really have happened to you in your life. And that’s the route that I’m going.
“I’m taking situations from my past and present. I see the humor in them, and I hope other people see the humor in them as well.”
Williams has been working with a certified comedian, Luenell, to help her with the mechanics of timing and structure. But she agrees that if this venture was on Broadway, it would be billed more as a “one-woman show” than stand-up.
“This is my chance to really talk about myself and the things that have impacted me the most,” she says.
Those things range from a “warped” childhood to “being a wallflower in high school” to college as “an escape from my family and my town and stuff.”
She will also dish on “plastic surgery, relationships with men and women,” her husband and her son. “But the fine line there is you still have to be respectful to people, because I’m not a comedian and I still have to face these people.”
Speaking of that: Will the show include a live version of “Hot Topics,” the celebrity beat-downs she doles out on TV?
Not really, she says. And at two points in the phone chat, she doesn’t take the bait for tee-up questions that would let her fire away at frequent “Hot Topics” target NeNe Leakes, the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star who recently hosted “Zumanity.”
But after sticking to that high road, Williams does drop a big tease.
“I only have one celebrity I’m bringing up in the act,” she says. She won’t name her in advance, but it’s one “who has a scandal going on around her right now that is so uncomfortable, I can’t even talk about it on the talk show.”
“People think when I’m sitting out there in that chair that if it’s happening in pop culture I’m going to talk about it,” she adds.
“But there’s some things in pop culture that are just so fricking awkward to talk about. … I need to curse while I say it, and I really do need to say it like I mean it.
“I can’t do that on TV in a nice dress. I need to do it in a comedy club where everybody’s sloppy drunk and I can curse.”
Again, that’s what Vegas is here for.
And if she and said celebrity really need to have a showdown? There’s always the monster trucks at Sam Boyd Stadium option.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.