Unleashing laughter for furry friends

Sammy Shore poses this question:

“Say you lock your wife and your dog in the garage for an hour. When you open the door, who’s gonna be the happiest to see you?”

It may be all the 85-year-old comedian needs to explain his work organizing three years of “Funny Bones” benefits for local animal rescue organizations.

The veteran comedian says it’s fairly easy to assemble, between people’s love for dogs and his own list of contacts. For instance: Even though Mickey Gilley is not among the entertainers who committed, he will be in town this weekend and Shore worked with him back in the day. “So I’m going to call him and tell him to get his butt down here.”

Those already on board for Sunday’s benefit at the Palms include George Wallace, Vinnie Favorito and Louie Anderson, with musical turns from Rick Faugno, Zowie Bowie and a rock band of stand-up comedians led by Rob Sherwood.

Shore is proud to have raised $25,000 last year for “the neediest dogs” that need surgery and special care. Tickets are $30 for the 3 p.m. show in the Palms’ Key West Ballroom. …

At least Norwegian Cruise Line has a sense of humor. Impressionist Greg London turned Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” into a song parody — “… stuck on a bad cruise ship” — for one of his more inspired bits at the LVH-Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

Now he’s leaving the former Hilton on Feb. 29, yes, for a cruise ship, presumably a good one. London accepted a three-month gig on Norwegian Cruise Line, where his fellow entertainers include the likes of the Blue Man Group and the Second City Comedy Troupe.

“It’s what I want to do just for now,” London says of the lucrative offer that will allow him to front a 12-piece band. But he would like to return to Las Vegas later this year. “I’m going to be keeping my pulse on things.”

“We certainly can’t expect the LVH to hold the room for Greg, although they have been very good to us,” says London’s producer, Bob Byers.

The Shimmer Cabaret still has three shows after losing London and the “Icons of Comedy”; promoter Mike Tricarichi moved his stand-up headliners across Paradise Road to the Riviera. “Nunsense,” Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini and “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show” still share the Shimmer as the hotel transitions into new management after foreclosure.

“It’s always a big jigsaw puzzle,” says Rick White, who oversees Shimmer. He’s looking at some new options, including an open lounge with live music in the late evenings. …

Colleagues Norm Clarke and Doug Elfman already have touched upon Whitney Houston’s Las Vegas shows that might have been. Flirtations with booking the star for a residency came so late in the game that “comeback” would have been attached to any deal that might have been signed.

But how much did Las Vegas see of her in better days? I could dig up four dates, three of them arena shows.

A Thomas & Mack Center concert in September of 1987, touring behind the “Whitney” album, packed in more than 12,000 people at what turned out to be the peak of her performing days. A Thomas & Mack return in May 1991 drew just 7,000.

Houston’s one public showroom gig was before “The Bodyguard” movie, at the Desert Inn in October 1992. That fell during a brief period in which the resort booked top stars at top dollar: $75 for Houston being an eye-opening price for the day.

After “I Will Always Love You” put her back on top of the charts, I reviewed an August 1994 arena date at the MGM Grand Garden. The headline signaled the trouble ahead: “Whitney too weary to light up MGM stage.”

The date made up an earlier postponement, yet fans still waited more than an hour after the opening act. Her voice was “deeper and huskier,” and she explained to the crowd: “You have a baby, you turn 31, things change. There’s a lot of sittin’ down you gotta do.”

Those were the ticketed gigs. Houston also played a private New Year’s gig at the Rio in 1998, accepted a BET Award from her mother at Paris Las Vegas in 2001, had a better night at the MGM with “VH1 Divas Duets” in 2003 and performed one more time at the Thomas & Mack for the televised World Music Awards in 2004. …

Mac King may need a plaid hockey mask. He will be at the Las Vegas Wranglers game Friday as part of a book drive. Those who bring three new or gently used children’s books to the games on Friday or Saturday will get a pair of tickets to King’s afternoon show at Harrah’s Las Vegas and one ticket to a future Wranglers game.

For those who love nature more than hockey, the ticket offer also applies to books dropped at the Springs Preserve through March 2.

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

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