NASCAR weekend is a big one for comedy this year, even if some of it seems coincidental.
Bubba The Love Sponge, the Florida-based radio host, says “the next time I come back, I probably won’t do it with so much conflict” with the race.
Don’t get him wrong. He races late-model stock cars on dirt tracks, and Tony Stewart stays at his house.
But Bubba’s satellite radio show is so popular in Las Vegas, the live “Bubbapalooza” at the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday didn’t need to hedge its bet by coming on the weekend of the Sprint Cup Series UAW-Dodge 400. “To be honest, a non-NASCAR weekend probably would have been better,” he says.
Instead, the host (born Todd Alan Clem, but now legally changed to Bubba The Love Sponge Clem) probably “won’t make it out to see the boys,” because of the traffic and logistics. He has to be on a plane by 4:15 p.m. and back in Tampa to do his morning show at 6 a.m. Monday.
But he will be back. Bubba is a Vegas kind of guy. A rapid-fire montage promoting his pay-to-view Web site, Bubbaraw.com, is a bombardment of lesbian kisses, kickboxing, headlocks, porn stars, strippers, genital electro-shocks and some big wrassler dude crashing through a wall.
Bubba already has been here once this year, for the Adult Video News awards last month. Even his first promotional appearance in Las Vegas, during an Ultimate Fighting Championship event, generated long autograph lines after his debut on Sirius Satellite Radio in 2006.
“We’ve really fallen in love with Las Vegas,” Bubba says of the city that boasts his third-highest Sirius ratings. “It goes back to how strong Howard (Stern) was in the marketplace, and that’s kind of transferred back to us as well.”
Bubba is so popular this year that you wonder how his voice holds up. He does his terrestrial radio show in Tampa from 6 to 10 a.m. EST, then a raunchier one from 3 to 7 p.m. on Stern’s Sirius channel. “We change the atmosphere of the studio a little bit and switch things around,” to avoid as much confusion as possible between the two shows, he says.
And yet, mistakes do occur. “Thank God I have a dump button,” he says of the device that keeps his audio feed from hitting the airwaves. “I think I probably hit it three times today on the morning show.”
For years, Stern badmouthed Bubba as a wanna-be. But he recruited his vanquished rival for the satellite venture after Clear Channel Communications fired Bubba in 2004, following an FCC crackdown on graphic content.
“Howard and I talked, and we really clicked,” he recalls. “Once we got in the same room and realized we have the same goal and a lot of the same beliefs of radio, we turned into, like, little schoolgirls, two little radio nerds talking about radio.”
The Sirius show led back to conventional radio earlier this year. “If it wasn’t for Howard, I probably would have been dead in the water with the industry,” he says. “Howard absolutely saved me and saved my career. Anything I ever do in radio will be because Howard was the bigger man and took a chance on me.”
“Bubbapalooza” brings the whole radio team, which means song parodies, stand-up, the aging redneck of mysterious origins named Ned, and a lot of other inside references which, “If you’re a guy off the streets you wouldn’t get,” Bubba admits. But that shouldn’t be a problem Saturday, with a show that was within 150 tickets of a sell-out earlier this week.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be an issue,” Bubba says.
And if it is, there’s more comedy this weekend.
• Bill Engvall, the suburban branch of the Blue Collar franchise, takes over the Mystere Theatre at Treasure Island today for two shows marking the rare outside use of a Cirque du Soleil venue. Want to bet he does that routine about his wife asking NASCAR questions which make more sense than he will admit?
• Long Island, N.Y., native Dave Attell does no NASCAR jokes that we have seen on basic cable. But the low-key stand-up who gets a lot of Comedy Central time returns today to the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.
• Pick your favorite former sitcom star: George Lopez returns to the Las Vegas Hilton today and Saturday, while Ray Romano teams up with fellow CBS alumnus Kevin James for a double bill at The Mirage today and Saturday.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or (702) 383-0288.what: “Bubbapalooza”
when: 9 p.m. Saturday
where: The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, 4455 Paradise Road
tickets: $49.50-$149.50 (693-5066)