Last Sunday’s column noted the long dry spell awaiting Las Vegas entertainment: Forget about big-buck investments in splashy new shows. This week, it’s only fair to note the flip side: Being broke doesn’t mean you can’t still be creative.
Specifically, if the Strip is sentenced to comedy and more comedy — mostly because it’s cheap — what can be done within that box? Three projects hope to prove you can do something different on a shoestring.
Jason Alexander comes to Planet Hollywood next week as a fictional motivational speaker named Donny Clay. He calls it a hybrid, "essentially a stand-up act with a theatrical premise."
At the Excalibur, veteran comedian Louie Anderson plans to reboot his stand-up forum into something more linear and thematic, focusing on his family story. "The idea I’m trying to portray is, ‘This is the kid I was, this is the adult I’ve become, and these are the people responsible.’ "
Producer Adam Steck and casino officials are kicking around several ideas — a dinner-show format, a new living room set, perhaps even a new title — that could convey the relaunch to ticket-buyers by mid-March, hopefully re-energizing them along with the 56-year-old comedian.
"For 30 years I’ve been doing stand-up, and I’ve been very successful at it," Anderson says. "Now I’m giving people an opportunity to go, ‘What?’ "
Meanwhile, three stand-up comics have banded together at Hooters Hotel to present "The Dirty Joke Show." The premise — and the set they built — is to show you the alley behind a comedy club, where Geechy Guy, Todd Paul and Mickey Joseph try to crack each other up between shows.
"Cookie-cutter clubs helped pay a lot of bills," says Guy, a veteran stand-up who has lived in Nevada since 1996. "But it’s exciting to be able to do something fresh," he says of this hybrid of stand-up and improv.
"We’re hearing every night, ‘What a great idea.’ We hope other people think it’s as cool as we do."
Anderson’s comedy always has delved into his childhood with 10 siblings in a low-income Minnesota family. "I never really have just sold jokes," he says. "My whole purpose behind this is to connect."
He has experimented with more theatrical formats, but never quite nailed one down. But on tour recently, a promoter outfitted his stage with living-room trappings that inspired that evening’s show. "There was more depth. There were more stories. There was a real feeling of an era, a time and a place that I was trying to go."
Over the next six weeks he will phase in the new form.
"It’s a semirisky thing in this town," he says. "But I really think it will, as my mom would say, hold a pitcher of water."
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or 702-383-0288.