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Ex-Raiderette makes stand-up debut at Bonkerz

Updated August 11, 2022 - 9:00 am

Sandy Gelfound knows her way around the Los Angeles Coliseum. She’s about to be introduced to Allegiant Stadium, and Bonkerz Comedy Club at the Pass in Henderson.

Gelfound is a former Raiderette during the team’s days in L.A. That explains the Coliseum. She’s part of the Raiderettes’ 60th anniversary reunion weekend in Vegas. That explains Allegiant Stadium, where some 500 former Raiderettes dating to the 1960s will perform during halftime of Sunday’s preseason opener against the Vikings.

Bonkerz is in play Friday because Gelfound is the lead comic that night. This Raiderette has cheered offensive and defensive lines, and is now delivering the punch lines. She’s experienced at all of it as she approaches her Las Vegas headlining debut.

“My first gig was actually in the kitchen, doing impressions of my parents,” Gelfound says. “I would do impressions of them arguing, so they would stop arguing and watch me. I was 5 years old.”

The 150-seat Bonkerz club opened at the Pass on May 1, and as owner Joe Sanfelippo jokes, “We’re the comedy hub of all of Water Street.”

Opening with shows only on Friday nights, Bonkerz expands to Fridays and Saturdays on Sept. 16-17.

Gelfound is important in getting the word out about the club, new to Henderson but known across the country for its chain of 22 venues. In Las Vegas, Bonkerz most recently operated regularly at the Rampart Casino, just before COVID.

“We need to reach people who normally wouldn’t hang out on Water Street, and anything that can lead to that is very valuable to us,” Sanfelippo says. “Sandy is a great opportunity to reach a new audience. But we want to try to build relationships beyond just making an extra $500 a night.”

Gelfound was a Raiderette from 1992-‘96. She has built on her original short-but-solid, act. Most recently she has been touring in support of popular headliner Jaime Kennedy.

“My first gig was at the Improv in Hollywood. My friend and I wrote five minutes together, and I got up and I got laughs and I been doing it ever since,” Gelfound says. “I couldn’t stop. It was an amazing feeling. I always felt funny, I always had my friends laughing and stuff. But to do it professionally and to be in front of an audience like that — yeah, I was hooked.”

Ticket-talk update

Adele’s new dates at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace went on sale Wednesday through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan protocol. The first right to those tickets wen to those who were on the original “Weekends With Adele” waitlist but did not receive a promo code to buy tickets.

Those who make it through this process have been assigned specific presale windows between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday to select their seats.

Then, those who refunded their tickets and needed a new date are given a shot at tickets.

It all means there won’t be a general onsale based on the Verified Fan demand.

The next step for fans trying to see Adele is to hit the secondary market (LasVegasTickets.com, Viagogo, StubHub, Seatgeek and the like). The early read is to expect to pay around $1,000 to get in the door, and between $5,000-$10,000 for premium seats, for “Weekends.” That’s about what LasVegasTickets.com was posting Wednesday afternoon.

But keep checking. The market fluctuates as tickets are returned. Demand is is slightly less than the original run, since Adele has added eight shows for a run of 32.

The series opens Nov. 18 and extends into December, breaking for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. She resumes Jan. 20, closing on March 24.

What Works in Vegas

Mark OToole’s debut at South Point Showroom on Friday and Saturday night. The amiable crooner has nearly sold out both shows. He’s going full-tilt with a 17-piece orchestra, donning the tux and bringing some updated vintage-Vegas vibe to the room.

“I’ll be doing really hip, big-band versions of Queen, the Eagles, Barry Manilow, some Frank,” OToole says, referring to (clearly) Sinatra. “We’ll have a little bit of everything. Tuxedos, the big band, a nostalgic feeling.”

If it works out, box-office-wise, OToole will be back, says venue operator Michael Libonati. “I have known Mark for more than 20 years, and knew he had a show, so we’re putting up in there to see how it goes,” Libonati says. “If it goes well, we’ll plan from there.”

Over the past dozen years we’ve caught OToole at Bootlegger Bistro, Margaritaville at Treasure Island (showcasing his Manilow tribute), the former Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel (now 24 Oxford at Virgin Hotel), the temporary saloon at the Mirage sportsbook (during the NFR), Myron’s at Smith Center (then Cabaret Jazz), Ravello at M Resort and Westgate Las Vegas.

Especially memorable was that Bootlegger show in March 2010, when the actress Sally Struthers from “All in the Family” introduced OToole. OToole was celebrating his three-year battle with, and comeback from, Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Aside from singing, OToole’s survival was not a certainty. But he did recover. Today he’s dropped 40 pounds and is lean and eager to make something of this South Point opportunity.

“I feel great, I’m working out, taking care of myself,” OToole says. “It’s going to be a great show. Being this excited keeps me going.”

Cool Hang Alert

Rock ‘n’ roll from San Antonio is up next at SoulBelly BBQ in the Arts District. The Heroine, with Big Like Texas, plays at 8 p.m. Thursday. “Playing fast, playing loud, playing for keeps,” is the billing. So pay the $10 cover, be happy with it, or suffer the consequences.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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