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Yes, ‘Celebrity Microwaves’ was a show, and a Las Vegas legend hosted

Updated May 1, 2024 - 12:06 pm

Pete Barbutti’s career has been a long road trip, but he’s worth the time, even if the clock is set on a microwave oven.

The great stand-up, an icon from the 1970s, once hosted the TV show “Celebrity MicroWaves.” This was a series showcasing the microwave recipes among celebrities in the early ’80s. The show was syndicated in Canada, taped in Calgary, and ran for 130 episodes.

“We had very good guests, most to of them appearing as a favor to me,” says Barbutti, headlining the Ahern Hotel’s A-Stars Comedy Show on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. “We did five shows a day. We would make a dish in one or two minutes, then eat it on the show. We had to make sure to just take small bites, because by the fifth show we couldn’t breathe.”

The show aired at 7 p.m. weekdays, repeating Sundays. Such stars of the era as playmate/pop-culture celeb Barbi Benton and slapstick comic Charlie Callas were guests.

Barbutti has outlasted that show and many others. The expert monologist and master pianist (and accordionist, from his youth) was especially popular on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Barbutti appeared 38 times with Carson and a series of guest hosts, among them David Brenner, George Carlin, David Letterman, Martin Mull, Bob Newhart, Burt Reynolds and McLean Stevenson.

Barbutti also sat with talk-show hosts Mike Douglas, Joey Bishop, Dinah Shore, Merv Griffin, and Steve Allen. He had the daytime and late-night circuit covered.

Just this week, I mentioned to a friend the comedy legend is headlining this weekend in Las Vegas. “He must 90 years old,” my friend said. Yes, he will be that age Saturday, as he turns 90.

“I feel great, and it’s great to have a place to perform,” said Barbutti, who can cover an entire set with just a couple of stories. His stories are from a comedy crock pot recipe rather than a microwave, simmering for many minutes before ready to serve.

Asked if he would develop any new material for the weekend, Barbutti said only, “Nah,” and laughed. “I do hope they have me back, though. We’ll see.”

Barbutti’s most recent appearance was when he inducted his late buddy Shecky Greene at last month’s UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame gala at Fontainebleau’s BleauLive Theater.

From the stage, Barbutti lavishly praised the chef who had prepared the night’s dinner. “I give him credit, because I don’t know if I would show up to work with hepatitis.”

These are the jokes, folks. Check out the Barbutti experience. You’re in for an adventure.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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