Chris Rock turns to improv in technically snagged Park Theater show

Updated June 11, 2017 - 5:42 pm

Chris Rock considered vacating the stage at The Park Theater on Saturday night.

Then he considered his paycheck.

“If I had more money, I’d leave,” Rock, who is recently divorced, said in reference to recurring audio snags at the Strip-side venue, which opened in December. At one point the audio system in the theater crackled, then randomly played what seemed to be the music recorded for Rock’s show-closing montage of top comics (Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield among them).

Mockingly, Rock called out, “This is the worst (expletive) place I’ve worked.” (For reference, Rock’s most recent tour stop before The Park Theater was the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino Special Events Center in Indio, Calif.) He followed by tossing his wireless mic over his shoulder and grabbing a hard-wired mic at the edge of the stage.

The sound and video system in the theater had faltered during Rock’s opening act, too, with much of the audience on house right/stage left unable to hear the show. That problem led to a lengthy delay while the problem was addressed. The video screens flanking the stage also flickered on and off throughout the show.

Rock delved into improv in these moments. “I just don’t want you thinking it’s me,” he said. “I don’t want people saying, ‘I went to Jerry Seinfeld and it was great! Very professional!” Seinfeld is a regular headliner at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (where Rock himself headlined in August 2008).

Rock also skewered the Monte Carlo, zeroing in on the fact that he couldn’t have room service delivered in a 24/7 town where “you can get steak and lobster at 3 o’clock in the morning.” That complaint fell in line with a following a series of Rock’s Twitter posts Saturday prior to the shows at Park Theater.

The theater’s technical problems were reportedly corrected for Rock’s second performance. Regardless, even after a nine-year absence from stand-up, his material was sharp and unflinching. Rock spoke at length about his infidelity, specifying three affairs in his 16-year marriage. “Guys are out there saying, ‘Three? That’s it? I work for UPS, and I’ve got more than three hoes.’”

Rock said George W. Bush was one of the most important figures in the history of black culture, as his presidency led to Barack Obama. “George Bush was so bad, people said, ‘Maybe this black guy has the answers!’ … In black history, it’s Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and George Bush.” He said Donald Trump’s administration could lead to a similarly inspired result. “Hey, Donald Trump might get us Jesus!”

Rock spoke of currying favor from his kids in his dual-custody parenting arrangement. “Oh, I’m competitive. I bring guest stars. I want my kids going back with stories,” Rock said. “Like, ‘Drake helped me with my homework! Lady Gaga made me grilled cheese!’”

The comic, who has recently signed a $40 million dollar deal with Netflix to exclusively air his comedy special, even talked of finding God. Or, rather, “I want to find God before he finds me.” And he talked of starting an airline, Risky Air, for passengers tired of the security restraints while flying.

“On Risky Airlines, we don’t check nobody! Everybody on the plane! Muslims fly half-price!” Rock said. “No tickets, we just stamp your hand, like at the club.”

But after some mid-flight turbulence, Rock navigated this craft to a smooth landing.

West was scheduled for LV

Adam West, the original Batman from the 1960s ABC-TV series who died Saturday at age 88, was scheduled to appear in Las Vegas this month. West and Burt Ward, who played Robin on the “Batman” show, were booked at the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con at Las Vegas Convention Center on June 24-25. Billed as the final appearance for the onetime Dynamic Duo, the two were to command a $99 fee for professional photos.

Lewis recovering

More than a week after being hospitalized, entertainment legend Jerry Lewis remains under doctors’ care while being treated for a UTI. Lewis was admitted June 3 and has since been treated with antibiotics.

His wife, Sam Lewis, says doctors are encouraged by his progress and he is doing “much better.” Plans are moving forward for his release (which was originally expected to be as early as a day after he was admitted), but the family first wants to be sure he is at full strength.

Lewis’ plans to travel to Toronto next week for an upcoming film have been pushed back. As it happens, one of the directors of the project has been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Called to the carpet

A Vegas connection to tonight’s Tony Awards telecast, ex-“Jersey Boys” performer Erich Bergen (he played Bob Gaudio when the show was at the Palazzo) is hosting the CBS red-carpet coverage from 5-7 p.m. Bergen is a cast member of the CBS series “Madame Secretary.”

Contino event planned

Judy Contino, widow of accordion great Dick Contino, has planned a celebration of life at Bootlegger Bistro’s Copa Room at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Friends and family are invited to attend and pay tribute to a real Vegas lounge legend in an event to be emceed by comedy icon Pete Barbutti. Many of Contino’s friends from the Las Vegas entertainment scene over the years are planning to take part.

Contino died April 19 of pneumonia at age 87 in his original hometown of Fresno, Calif. His family is organizing a scholarship fund in his name to support arts students at his alma mater, Fresno High School.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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