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Windblown Crapshoot Festival wasn’t a breeze in first year

Stand-up comics often joke about hearing crickets — the metaphorical reference for a crowd falling silent.

But comedians at the Crapshoot Comedy Festival heard crickets, for real, over the weekend in downtown Las Vegas. The loud, chirping sounds had nothing to do with the quality of the jokes.

They had everything to do with the venue.

“At our outdoor stage at the Beauty Bar, we actually heard crickets,” Crapshoot Comedy festival co-founder Paul Chamberlain says. “There were actual, audible crickets.”

Probably time to lose that venue, and that is the plan after the first year of Crapshoot. It’s one of many lessons learned from the inaugural event, which ran at seven venues — five of them on Fremont East — in downtown Las Vegas.

As the name indicated, Crapshoot’s opening run invited uncertainties. Many of the venues, such as the Zappos Chambers, Fiesta Room at El Cortez, Ne10 across the street from Zappos, Commonwealth and the courtyard at Beauty Bar, had never presented comedy.

In this mix, Crapshoot was the rare comedy festival partially wiped out by weather. Thursday shows at temporary facilities at Beauty Bar and Ne10 were canceled because of high winds.

“We couldn’t have anticipated that, and it ruined our walk-up sales Thursday,” said Chamberlain, who had anticipated 40 percent of his ticket sales would be walk-up purchases. Instead, on Thursday, he recorded close to zilch. “I was just crestfallen. But in talking to some of the comics, they were saying, ‘This is a first-year festival. Don’t worry about it. The people who are here are the ones who really want to be here. The audiences are great.’ “

Chamberlain, and his wife, Kacky, co-founded Crapshoot and deem the event a qualified success. Some shows sold out — such as Bert Kreischer’s “Bertcast” podcast at Fremont Country Club. Some anticipated sellouts, such as Dave Attell at the 450-seat Zappos Chambers, didn’t fill to capacity, but still drew strong crowds and (predictably) top-notch performances.

“We had some great moments, with Dave bringing Bert and (club headliner) Brad Williams to the stage and just riffing after he’d already done a solid 60 minutes,” Chamberlain said. “But the turnout, overall, was light, and we are now doing forensics on why.”

Chamberlain says he plans to bring Crapshoot back in 2018, maybe during a different weekend not so close to Memorial Day. The off-Fremont Street venues (Zappos and Ne10, specifically) might be taken out of play, as will any outside stage. Festival organizers also hope to stage a show or event at the Smith Center.

“We learned a lot,” Chamberlain said. “We walked in as kids and came out as adults.”

Cake by Acme

John Fogerty marked his 72nd birthday during his show at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas on Wednesday night, as his son Tyler wheeled out a cake that was a replica of Fogerty’s famed “Acme” Rickenbacker guitar. Fogerty gave the instrument to a couple of young fans 1973, as Creedence Clearwater Revival unraveled. His wife, Julie, tracked down the guitar — nicknamed “Acme” for the generic company from Road Runner-Wile E. Coyote cartoons — and gave it back to her husband for Christmas.

Fogerty was joined onstage by sons Shane, who plays guitar throughout the show, and Tyler, whose spirited spin through “Good Golly Miss Molly” is something to behold. Fogerty’s actual birthday is Sunday, but used Wednesday to celebrate to create buzz about his remaining shows 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Acme (the guitar) will be back in action.

‘Men of the Strip’ delayed

The opening of ‘Men of the Strip’ male revue piloted by Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees has been moved from this week to July 14. The show was originally set to bow Thursday night at Havana Room at Tropicana. No official word yet on why the show was moved back, but more is to be … revealed.

‘X Rocks’ movin’

The classic-rock revue in Stabile Productions’ “X” empire, “X Rocks,” is planning to move from its Kings Room venue at the Rio. Tiffany Mondell, co-producer of the show produced by her mother, Angela Stabile, and Angela’s husband, Matt Stabile, said during my “Kats! On the Radio” KUNV 91.5-FM show this week that the production was planning to relocate, but remain at the Rio. You can sort out some of the open venues, including those on the second level, that could present that show.

Lounge update

The future of the Lounge at the Palms is not yet announced, but we do know that the hotel plans renovation affecting that space. There are no formal live-entertainment performances scheduled from June forward, with Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns closing (maybe) the Lounge on May 29.

Says a Palms spokesman: “We want to continue to look for different forms of entertainment during our known construction transitions. Entertainment will continue to be a key pillar of the Palms strategy. We look forward to sharing future plans with you at a later date.”

Something to remember: Station Casinos, which now owns Palms, has a history of pulling apart great live-entertainment venues (such as Ovation at Green Valley Ranch) for something more profitable and less imaginative (like a bingo center), or needlessly modifying great live venues (such as Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort) with amenities (a giant glass wall). Maybe the Lounge will be renovated into an improved live-entertainment venue. If not … pass the dauber?

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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