Rickles on stage, as ever, as always

It sure did seem like a long walk from the center of The Orleans stage to its wings.

I think the whole audience collectively clenched its teeth and made the walk with Don Rickles last weekend. He’s 87, and walks with a pronounced forward lean, and he was a little tottery getting around that microphone cord on the floor.

But he turned around and came right back. He still had to introduce the band, sing “I Am What I Am,” and tell us all to “never forget your mother, because she will never forget you.”

Oh, and do a little soft shoe, too.

Seeing “The Sinatra of Comedy,” as opening act Robert Davi called him last weekend, shows how everything is relative.

I hadn’t seen Rickles in a few years and wanted to see how he was holding up.

Press audience members and they would be forced to admit it. See him now, because you just never know when he is coming back. Yes, he’s already booked for next year. But Ray Price, a few months older than Rickles, was booked for the Silverton this weekend and canceled because of his continuing battle with pancreatic cancer.

So nothing is guaranteed when you are 87. But then I found out my seat was next to Marty Allen, who is 91. He’s playing the Plaza Oct. 24-26.

Nostalgia is also relative. For some, it was actual memories of seeing Rickles way back when. For others, it was a taste of something they were too young to experience.

The time travel began with Davi singing Sinatra standards in front of a full big band. “That twerking (stuff) ain’t for me,” he told the crowd. Also, something they used to say back in the day, when entertainers worked directly for the hotels instead of intermediate producers: “If you’re on a high from Rickles, I hope you go hit the tables.”

My Rickles connection lands somewhere in the middle. It was well past what people would consider his heyday when I talked to him in 1998, as he sat in a white bathrobe over his tuxedo shirt and tie in the dressing room of … the Desert Inn.

Yeah, that place.

And Rickles, then not quite 72, already had to explain two years earlier that “old is how you feel, and thank God, I feel great. Old is just a word.”

But 15 years ago was still its own version of the good ol’ days. It was the Crystal Room after all. And Rickles still made his grand entrance by bursting out from the audience, one prune-faced ball of rage.

Rickles still works the front row, and resurrects a few gay and racial slurs you don’t hear on stages much anymore. But most of it played like another touchstone to the past. A reminder of the act he used to perform more than the person he now is onstage.

“That’s what I do my friends, I make fun of people,” he reminded us. Later, he would add that it was “never mean-spirited.”

But more of the time, the tone was sentimental. He braced himself with the grand piano or sat perched on a stool, and marveled at his amazing track record in Las Vegas. As best as anyone can tell, he’s never missed a year since his debut at the Sahara lounge in 1959.

“Vegas was my first big thing,” he told the crowd, remembering 5 a.m. excursions on Lake Mead after wrapping the last set in the lounge. “Anything to get a broad.”

Rickles’ son Larry died two years ago at age 41. You could read some extra poignance into otherwise unchanged parts of the act; singing “I’ll trade you laughter for love,” or “wishing you people what I have, people around you who care.”

Marty Allen rose to his feet several times for standing ovations. When the show was over and the crowd cleared, he greeted some well-wishers and then with a walking cane, made his way to the stage door to go see Rickles.

His wife, Karon, went to catch up with him, then turned around to wave goodbye. “Face it,” she said. “This is what they live for.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
Sugar Factory makes a shareable Christmas cocktail
If you’re looking to share holiday cheer, this goblet is big enough to split among at least a few friends. The bubbly punch is made with cherry vodka, cranberry juice and a scoop of Christmas tree gummy candies — just in case it’s not sufficiently sweet.
New Year's Eve fireworks are ready to fly in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Fireworks by Grucci unveil details of “America’s Party 2019” New Year's Eve fireworks and entertainment extravaganza during a news conference at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like