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October 1, 2014

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Oscar Goodman revels in his ‘Roast,’ even if jokes sometimes miss the mark

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Steve Marcus

Former Las Vegas Oscar Goodman removes olives from his martini after arriving for “The Showbiz Roast” at the Stratosphere Theater Tuesday, July 23, 2013.

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The Showbiz Roast of Oscar Goodman/Richard Corey

Oscar Goodman delivered two great lines Tuesday night. One was from the stage during “The Showbiz Roast” at the Stratosphere. The other was afterward during a party at sky-high Level 107 lounge.

Deep into the show, Goodman took note of the lack of abuse he’d suffered and asked, “I’m just wondering when this roast is supposed to start.”

Hours later, during the VIP party afterward, he said, “I haven’t been up this late since my bar mitzvah.” That was at about 12:30 a.m. Mayor Carolyn Goodman had hoofed it from the theater far earlier, facing a day that began at 7 a.m. highlighted by a Las Vegas City Council meeting.

She didn’t miss much battering of her husband, that’s for sure. Goodman said a few of the roasters said they were deferential to the point of fear of attacking the former three-term mayor, “Mob attorney,” author and longtime Las Vegas ambassador.

“A few of them said they were afraid to come after me because I would have the last word,” Goodman said afterward. “I was ready for the worst, but it never came.”

Whatever the case, the second “Showbiz Roast” was a timid affair, far less vitriolic than the roast of Zowie Bowie (Chris Phillips) in April. The roasters who took turns at the cartoonish podium, which looks like it was salvaged from the MGM Grand Theme Park, did throw darts at one another and produced some funny moments.

Geechy Guy was particularly sharp, referring to Rick Dale of “Rick’s Restorations” onstage and saying, “Rick specializes in fixing old Coke machines — maybe he should go to work on The Amazing Johnathan.” Guy also said that Pia Zadora “didn’t sleep her way to the top … obviously.” Chef Carla Pellegrino joked that, because of her accent, “nobody is going to understand my jokes anyway” and was interrupted by Goodman, who said, “I have no idea what she is saying.”

The effectively boyish Mac King started a dirty joke by saying that he was going to edit out the profanity, then started with, “These two (expletives) were walking down the street ...” Lola the Showgirl, the latest caricature summoned by Penny Wiggins (the sidekick of The Amazing Johnathan), engaged in a running dialogue with Goodman during her four-minute appearance, with each individual accusing the other of not paying for some unspecified services years ago.

One roaster who did fix on her target was conservative talk-show host Heidi Harris. She talked of the $42 million spent on the Mob Museum, a pet project of Goodman’s, only to have the attraction derided by a conservative organization that tracks the use of public money. “The most ridiculous tourist attraction in the country, Oscar!” she shot. Not sure if everyone in the crowd, which laughed in a sort of courteous way, was really tickled at the reference. But Harris at least focused on the man in the throne.

Rich Little added credibility by his mere presence, as the only individual onstage (and one of the very few still living) who actually took part in the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts a decade ago. “Why am I here?” he asked roastmaster Murray Sawchuck beforehand. “It’s not a career move.”

The Amazing Johnathan called out Sawchuck, saying, “I’ll be watching Murray to see how much of what I say tonight winds up in his act.” Murray joked back, “It’s a tribute show!” What hardly anyone in the audience likely realized is the back-and-forth underscored a Facebook and online scrape between the two magicians, in which Johnathan has ripped into Sawchuck for allegedly pilfering portions of his comedy-magic act. Sawchuck just rode it out.

As always, Johnathan is brilliant, protective of his art and occasionally erratic.

Once again contributing top-level stage aptitude, Clint Holmes tailored “My Way” for Goodman. The Phat Pack, one of the city’s gem acts at the Plaza, sang their signature “Men of a Certain Age” as Goodman bubbled over with laughter (especially the line about the little blue pill), and the Rat Pack tribute, fittingly, closed the night. No word, yet, on the take for the mayor’s chosen charity, the Miracle League of Las Vegas. We do know the next roastee, as expected, is "Divas Las Vegas" headliner Frank Marino. That show is set for Oct. 4, again at the Strat.

Goodman joked about struggling to stay awake, but he was energized as he talked of the show later. He talked of the scene, all the smiles he met while posing for photographs while gripping a giant martini on the red carpet. This was his kind of event: part party, part campaign rally, and all Vegas.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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