Updated October 21, 2020 - 8:20 am
The Tropicana owns a long history of stand-up comedy dating to the days when Rodney Dangerfield opened Rodney’s Place at the famed Strip resort in 1984. Then the venue turned over to the Comedy Stop for 25 years, Bobby Slayton’s club for a brief time, and from 2010 to ’12 was home of the original Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club.
The Trop returns to funny business (har) Nov. 5, with the return of the Laugh Factory on the hotel’s mezzanine level.
Club operator and headlining comic Harry Basil says veteran stand-up and Vegas resident Bob Zany will head the 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. shows as the club returns to action. Its dates are Thursdays through Sundays. Impressionist legend Rich Little and magician Murray Sawchuck will open on dates to be determined in November.
Little is moving to 6:30 p.m., from 7 p.m., to allow time to sanitize the room before the comedy lineup. Sawchuck keeps his 4 p.m. slot. Zany is joined by Brian McKim and Traci Skene on opening weekend. Headliner Butch Bradley is with Rick D’Elia and Roberto Rodriquez on Nov. 12-15.
Star actor and comic Andrew Dice Clay, who fills the room consistently, performs Nov. 27-29. Clay filmed his Showtime series “Dice” at the hotel from 2016 to ’17.
The Laugh Factory is likely to carry the entire live entertainment load at the Trop into 2021. There is no plan to return “Legends in Concert” or the Prince tribute act Purple Reign to the Tropicana Theater this year.
Clay takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 27-28 and 10:30 p.m. Nov. 29, which is Thanksgiving weekend. Eleanor Kerrigan opens. Also on Nov. 26, Kerrigan headlines with special guest Jimmie “J.J.” Walker.
Same as every other venue reopening on the Strip during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Laugh Factory has been redesigned for social distancing, with the 25-foot entertainment “moat” between the performers and closest audience members.
“I’m a little nervous about it,” Basil said Tuesday afternoon. “We can seat up to 90, but we have to keep tables apart, so if we have a lot of two-tops, we might be closer to 50.”
Comics are permitted to work without face covers, because of the “moat’s” 25-foot expanse. But Basil was prepared to deal with a mask mandate.
“I was going to cook some food and bring it on stage so they could eat during the show,” Basil said. “Then they could take off the mask. ‘Oh, here’s some mac and cheese! Bear with me here!’ We didn’t have to do it, but I had my recipes ready.”
Carrot Top-Zany connection
In a battle of young comedians, Zany bested Carrot Top, 3.75 stars to 3.25. Both comics look to McMahon as if confused about the score.
Topper, legal name of Scott Thompson, plays that clip in his stage show, saying, “It’s like I can’t tell if 3.25 is more than 3.75.”
BFG feels the Love
A few weeks ago Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top participated in the upcoming all-star livestream show celebrating Jerry Lee Lewis’ 85th birthday. The event was recorded at the Foo Fighters’ studio in Van Nuys, California.
During a break, Gibbons asked what song was next on the session list. He was told it was a cover of “409,” the Beach Boys classic.
“I know it!” Gibbons said.
At that moment, the guitar great felt a tap on his shoulder.
“I turned out to be greeted by none other than Mike Love,” Gibbons said of the Beach Boys founding member, who, unknown to Gibbons, was on hand to perform the song. “He still sounds exactly like the record, Southern California dialect and all.”
The event streams at 5 p.m. next Tuesday at Lewis’ Facebook page, YouTube channel and JerryLeeLewis.com. The concert also features performances and greetings from Elton John, Joe Walsh, Tom Jones, Bonnie Raitt, President Bill Clinton, Priscilla Presley, Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack and Marty Stuart.
Actor and musician John Stamos from “Full House,” who has toured and played percussion with the latter-day version of the Beach Boys, hosts.
The cast of the 1986 tour of “Cats” is reuniting 5 p.m. Friday for a special “Cats 4 Covid Relief” streaming benefit for the Broadway Cares COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Go to broadwaycares.org/catsbenefit to watch and support. The show will be available through Monday on the BroadwayCares site. A few notable Vegas entertainment figures are supporting the project.
Former Broadway dancer and current writer/blogger Randy Slovacek, who played Magical Mr. Mistoffelees is in this reunion effort. Las Vegas Musicians Union Local 369 President Jack Gaughan is returning to the project. Gaughan was the conductor of “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” and “Chicago” at Mandalay Bay. And, Jay Alger, conductor of “The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay, is music director for the livestream. The project is aiming to raise $10,000 to support performers from Las Vegas to New York.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.