Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vegas again.

Is anything more American than Las Vegas? Everything you shouldn't do is available here with a half off coupon. Its spring break for adults. Consumption is conspicuous and behavior that would get you arrested any place else is encouraged with the now well worn mantra- what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Trust me. You will take home those extra pounds.
Watching your weight with portion control?
All you can eat buffet!
Get caught looking at other women when you're with your wife at home?
Enjoy the topless review in the crazy girls show!
Holding onto money now that the economy sucks?
Come stick that 401K in the most liberal slots. After all, vegas gives you better odds these days than Wall Street.
I'm working at the Rivera Casino all week. Its a long week too. Monday-Sunday, two shows a night. Fourteen shows in seven days is a grind for any comic. The upside is you can refine bits all week. Tweak them a little and try out different tags. Anything to keep it interesting for yourself.
The Riviera is old Vegas. You can find traces of its glory days in the black and white photos of stars when we really had stars. The greats worked here. Bob Hope, Bob Newheart, Steve Martin, Don Rickles and major names in theater and music. Buts its also old Vegas in the literal way. They are a mixed bag this gray and graying crowd. I am struck by how many canes, limps, wheel chairs and plus size wardrobe I see. As a people, we are in horrible shape.
I am the opener. It stings the ego a bit but in Vegas you get paid what a lot of clubs pay for a Headline week. Still, fifteen minuets up front is not as sweet as walking into the glory position of headliner.
Comedy seems to follow a sort of rhythm. The highs get smoothed out by the lows. In the long run, if you can be even then you can be a success. This week I am the opener but the opener in Vegas at a classic hotel. Last week I was the headliner at a show and got a standing ovation after Riffing an hour long show for a fair sum of money.
Its all Good.
During a show I am talking to a guy who says this is only the second time he's been to Vegas.
"How did it go the first time?" I ask.
"I lost all my money and I came to get it back."
The way he said it sounded like he was going around town hanging up missing posters of his cash.
"It's gone, Dude."
The scale of Vegas was built to inspire awe and gluttony. Its all about excess here. A friend I haven't seen in forever happens to be in town the same time I am. We go to Lunch at the Rain-forest Cafe inside MGM Grand. Every few minuets you hear one of the waiters shout, "Volcano!" As soon as the other waiters hear it they start yelling it too. What gets this introduction is a dessert. I'm not sure what it is. All I can say is it came in a bowl that looked more like a sink. Ice cream was piled high. Slabs of what I think were chocolate seemed stuck to the sides of it too. To top it all off they ad a sparkler on the top.
I think they yell volcano because thats more appealing than shouting diabetes!
Everything in the cafe is plastic. The trees, plants, leaves and name tags. Fake animal heads stare out at us from the plastic canopy of plastic vines that line the walls. There is a thunder storm every twenty minuets. The lights flash and a sound track provides the audio component. All in all, it is how Americans like there outdoors-brought inside and made to run on a show schedule with people bringing you food named after a natural disaster.
My sister lives in Henderson. It is suburbia anywhere just a half hour drive from the strip. When she picks me up she drives past a mega church.
"Its where I take Bible study classes." She proudly informs me before adding, "you can think what you want about that."
Done and done, sister.
She explains that the church is so big it has its own Starbucks.
Excuse me?
Hello. I would like some no foam, half caf forgiveness, please.
At my end of the strip, Vegas is a little worn. The Riv is a classic, but she is showing her age. At this end you see a lot of people who probably remember this place back in the day. At the other end of the strip the average drops into the twenties. You see groups of guys all looking like they're staring in their own private episodes of Entourage. The girls have bought the myth of Vegas. The uniform for girls seems to be slightly slutty dresses with the time honored accessories of high heels, that after drinking make them all walk like a tipsy valocaraprtor, and of course those wacky long skinny drinks in novelty shapes that are really just portable lack of inhibitions delivery systems.
All in all, I have a fun week. Everyone at the Riv treated me great and the other comics on the bill were pretty cool too.
Till next time, Vegas.