Updated May 7, 2021 - 3:41 pm
Louie Anderson is ready for a new start, and not just his return to telling jokes in front of a live audience. The jokes themselves are new as Anderson headlines Laugh Factory at the Tropicana on Saturday and Sunday.
“I’ve got a lot of new stuff I want to perform,” said Anderson, stepping into the 6:30 p.m. slot for Rich Little, who is off this weekend. “So, I’m dunking my fresh comedy doughnut into a cup of coffee. A little milk, no sugar.”
Anderson’s new doughnut is actually being served on a June 12 performance on the Rushtix.com platform. But he has not performed a stand-up set in Las Vegas since a pop-in to Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club in February 2020.
The Mother’s Day performance Sunday is an appropriate coincidence, as Anderson was especially close to his mom, Ora, who died in 1990. The family matriarch was the inspiration for Anderson’s Emmy-winning role as Christine Baskets in the FX series “Baskets.”
Anderson, who lives in Las Vegas, casually asked Laugh Factory operator and headliner Harry Basil about openings at the club to work out new material.
“I just said to Harry, ‘What’s going down at your club? Any open spots?’” Anderson said. “He had this Saturday and Sunday. I said, ‘Mother’s Day? I love that! For the moms!’ So, it’s just me, no opener. We’ll see if I can take these ingredients and make a meal out of it, just like the old days.”
Anderson’s career as a stand-up headliner was launched in Las Vegas, just after his Nov. 20, 1984, debut on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
“On Nov. 21, I was booked at The Comedy Store at the Dunes,” Anderson recalled. “The next week I was opening for the Commodores at Bally’s. It was such a whirlwind. Las Vegas has meant so much to me.”
“Talk about buttoning something. We came full circle together,” Anderson said. “For me, the whole experience was unbelievable. Eddie and I talked a lot about him coming back to comedy, and he said he felt rusty as a stand-up. I said, ‘You know, you can open my shows for me.’ That got a tremendous laugh.”
Even away from his filming with “Baskets,” which ended after four seasons in 2019, Anderson was a workhorse as a stand-up headliner. Even in a “slow” year, he logged 150 shows per year. Typically he exceeded 200 dates annually.
Anderson says he was caught off-guard by how much he missed the stage over the past 16 months.
”When I had this taken away from me for a year, I realized, this is such a big part of my life,” Anderson said. “You don’t realize that when you’re going through it, but I am feeling it now. I’ve never been more excited about a new set than I am now.”
‘Tricks’ is Murray
On the topic of Laugh Factory and who headlines there …
A couple weeks ago Murray Sawchuck filmed on-location “one-thousand percent in the middle of nowhere,” at Last Call Bar & Grill in Henderson, Tennessee, for the upcoming film “My Perfect Love.”
Sawchuck has a cameo as a bartender named Tricks. So, now it’s Tricks Sawchuck. No more Magic Murray. The film is due this summer.
Sawchuck has also been cast to film next week for an upcoming episode of “CSI: Vegas,” the sequel to “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Sawchuck’s fiance, Dani Elizabeth of “Crazy Girls” is also cast as a showgirl.
‘Rat Pack’ IS back
After several months in its temporary Florentine Ballroom digs at Tuscany Suites, “The Rat Pack is Back” has returned to its regular home at The Copa Room. The production returns with Chris Jason as Frank Sinatra, Drew Anthony as Dean Martin, and Kyle Diamond as Sammy Davis Jr.
Joelle Righetti is our comic showgirl, and Lon Bronson the esteemed music director, leading the seven-piece band. The show opened at Tuscany in 2015, and has been a hit since.
Cool Hang(s) Alert
Some spots on and off the Strip to find the groove:
— Skye Dee Miles is rocking it in two favorite hangs, one reopening after COVID and one just coming alive. Miles is at NoMad Bar at Park MGM from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through May. She’s also teeing it up at the Shag Room at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays. This is on top of her Wednesday night shows at Cork & Thorn in the Arts District.
— Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers and John Wedemeyer performed for the first time at Westgate’s International bar on Thursday and should work out more dates there, too. The duo is still holding court at 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Bootlegger Bistro.
— For the first time, the “Fabulous Beatles Show,” a tribute to you-know-who, headlines Italian American Club Showroom on May 20. Dinner is 6:30, ambient rock ‘n’ roll action at 8 p.m. And yes, we’re going to keep with the “ambient” reference, if only to be obnoxious. Hit the IAC.com website for details.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.