Comedians use caution with political humor in front of Las Vegas audiences

It’s the wildest presidential campaign Americans have seen in years, providing endless punch lines to late-night talk-show hosts and stand-up comedians everywhere.

Except Las Vegas, which does not have a reputation for take-no-prisoners political humor. The reason, in part: Las Vegas audiences who have no burning desire to parse incisive, hard-edged political humor while they’re on vacation.

Of course, the perils of performing political humor include the risk that, in a presidential race in which Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are running nearly neck and neck, firing a barb at either may alienate literally half of the audience.

Las Vegas does host name comedians — Bill Maher and Dennis Miller among them — whose humor is aggressively political and heavily partisan. But audiences of such performers know, expect, and usually agree with the jokes they’ll be hearing, says Greg Vaccariello, who headlines and books acts at Sin City Comedy and Burlesque at Planet Hollywood.

In contrast, for comedians who play clubs here, “if you’re taking a stance with your joke, pro or con, with those two candidates, you’re going to lose quite a bit of the crowd,” Vaccariello says.

“We live in a vacation town, and people want to forget about their problems and what’s going on,” he adds. “So if you go out and just start hitting them with political stuff, even if it’s funny and even if they kind of agree with it, they don’t want to think about that. … They just want to have fun, they want to gamble, they want to drink.”

Vaccariello says most of the comedians he books don’t do political humor. And to those who do, often playing off the news, Vaccariello says he urges them to play it down.

“If you do hot-button topics like politics and Black Lives Matter jokes, it’d better be good,” he notes.

The way in which a political joke is presented can affect whether it’s accepted by a Las Vegas audience. For example, Vaccariello says, “if you do both (candidates) fairly, I don’t think people mind it as much.”

Comedian Bobby Wayne Stauts, who co-hosts the podcast “Rise to Offend” and is scheduled to host a comedy presentation at the Life is Beautiful festival Sunday, has found that Las Vegas audiences will accept political jokes that are aimed not at specific candidates but at the political process itself.

“I do have a good number of political jokes I’m doing at the moment,” Stauts says. “A lot of them definitely are jokes that are sort of (about) absurdity. That way it doesn’t draw a line between audience members. I’m basically anti-both sides of the argument.”

Stauts says Las Vegas audiences are challenging because of their diverse, international makeup.

“When you go to another town and do comedy, everyone, even if they have different political beliefs, they’re kind of on the same wavelength from living in the same area,” he says. “But people come to Las Vegas, you’ve got 100 different countries represented. That means 100 different mindsets in there. So you have to kind of deal with that.”

Jokes based on the nuances of American politics might be a tough sell for Las Vegas audiences, while jokes based on what Stauts calls the “reality show” vibe of this year’s presidential campaign probably will resonate even among international visitors.

Stauts says most of the political humor he’s been hearing this campaign season is “based on the visual. There is no political humor based around people’s policies or anything like that. It’s more or less making fun of the way people look and the way they act.”

That’s the tack being taken by ventriloquist Terry Fator, who earlier this year introduced a Donald Trump puppet into his show at The Mirage. Fator, who supports Trump and has said so publicly, says that his aim is to poke fun at Trump’s public persona, rather than at his, or Clinton’s, political stands.

“So it’s not really political, and it’s fun,” he says. “I get asked a lot, ‘Why don’t you do a Hillary puppet?’ Because that’s purely political. The only way we know Hillary is through politics.

“Donald Trump transcends politics. I won’t do political humor in the show.”

“I really think people are there to be entertained,” Fator adds, and will accept political humor “as long as you’re not making fun of policy.

“I would never get up and make fun of one side or the other, because I know half my audience, especially in this politically divided age, is going to get angry if you make fun of policy. One of the big punch lines I use (with the Trump puppet) is, ‘And Mexico is gonna pay for it.’ For me, it’s really just to have fun.”

Read more from John Przybys at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"The Lion King" roars into Las Vegas
New music club 172 brings loud luxury to Las Vegas
New music venue at the Rio brings rock ’n’ roll and food together at intimate club. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fans fear for Zak Bagans’ safety in Las Vegas Halloween TV special
Fly Linq zip line time lapse
Fly Linq zip line timelapse
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu (Al Mancini Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like