Comedian George Wallace told jurors Monday that he hasn’t been able to perform or promote his show the way he did before he was injured during a performance at the Bellagio in 2007.
Wallace could not perform stand-up comedy — he sat during shows — for at least six months after his left Achilles tendon ruptured as he stumbled over loose electrical wires on stage during a private corporate event. He testified Monday during the third week of his personal injury civil trial that he still can’t walk the Strip the way he used to and invite people to his show. He turned down a movie role because of the injury. And he can no longer move on stage the way he did prior to the injury.
Before being hurt, Wallace would mimic James Brown, and do “the pee pee dance” for a crowd, he said. His physical act is more subtle these days, he said.
“I wish this had never happened,” Wallace said. “I will never make enough money to sustain that injury. … I’m not who I used to be.”
Wallace, now 66, is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the resort for lost earnings, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. He told jurors Monday that an economist informed him he has lost upwards of $4 million and could lose at least $3.5 million more because of the injury.
On cross examination, Bellagio attorney Paul Haire tried to describe Wallace’s physical performance, clarifying that it was not “break dancing” or “hip hop dancing. It was not the Tango or the Flamenco.”
Haire then stepped aside from the podium to imitate the comedian’s dance moves for the jury, holding his hands out just above his waist, shaking his hips and shuffling his feet.
Wallace agreed that it was a fair interpretation.
Haire prodded Wallace for a description of “the pee pee dance.”
“Would you agree with me that it is essentially you holding or grabbing your crotch and essentially doing some minor pelvic thrusting?” he asked.
“It’s not grabbing your crotch,” Wallace said. “It’s doing a dance, then moving to the next section; OK, do the pee pee dance there; go to the other side of the audience; do it over there and run back over to the other side; Oh we got some men, let’s give the men a little bit of it. Do the pee pee dance, yes.”
Haire’s questions seemed to focus on movement that required minimal athleticism, with Wallace’s foot planted in one spot.
“Can you do ‘the pee pee dance’ now?” Haire asked.
“Yeah, but not like I used to do it,” Wallace said, without leaving the witness chair. “I can’t dance without thinking about being careful.”
Later, Haire asked, “Are you able to dance at all?”
“I don’t know,” Wallace said. “I want to, but I’m scared.”
The comedian and his company, Crazy World Inc., filed the personal injury lawsuit against Bellagio and HSBC in November 2009. He has since reached an undisclosed settlement with HSBC.
Though he occasionally performed from a chair shortly after being hurt, Wallace has continued his regular act at the Flamingo, where he lives. He testified that he paid himself about $1 million last year through Crazy World. He also owns a condo at Turnberry Towers in Las Vegas, along with property in New York and Los Angeles and two homes in Georgia.
Haire also tried to show that Wallace had a pre-existing injury to the same foot that was hurt during the Bellagio performance.
Wallace saw a doctor a couple months prior to the Dec. 8, 2007, injury at Bellagio for soreness in his left foot, according to court testimony. He said he didn’t tell doctors examining his foot after the Bellagio injury about the previous condition because he believed it was fixed.
Wallace’s testimony wrapped up Monday afternoon, and the trial is slated to continue at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in District Judge Ron Israel’s courtroom.
Local economist Thomas Carroll is the first expected witness.
Contact reporter David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5290. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.