Las Vegas Sun

December 17, 2014

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Take Five: Rita Rudner:

A love affair with Las Vegas

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If you go

Who: Rita Rudner

When: 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays

Where: Harrah’s

Tickets: $59.40 to $99; 369-5111

On TV: PBS special to air 9 p.m. March 17 on Vegas PBS Channel 10

Comedian Rita Rudner’s life is a smorgasbord of entertainment — novels, essays, plays, films, comic strips and talk shows, in addition to her stand-up engagement at Harrah’s.

For fans hungry for comedy, the former Broadway dancer will celebrate her 2,000th show in Las Vegas with a local PBS special March 17.

The show, “Rita Rudner: Live From Las Vegas,” will air nationally later and is being released as a DVD.

Las Vegas’ first lady of comedy has written a couple of novels, “Tickled Pink” and “Turning the Tables,” and a couple of books of essays, “Naked Beneath My Clothes” and her latest, “I Still Have It, I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It.”

And she and her husband have co-written a play, “Room No. 776.” The story is about two strangers forced to share a Las Vegas hotel room on a sold-out weekend. The play had a read-through earlier this year with Rudner and comedian Bobby Slayton as the main characters, roles that will be filled by other actors when the comedy debuts locally in June.

In her breathless, rapid-fire delivery, Rudner recently talked to the Sun about her projects, managing to plug everything but the kitchen sink within a brief few minutes.

1. The special

This is going to be the first DVD that I ever put out for sale. People have asked me for years and years, “Why don’t you have a DVD?” I never really wanted to do one. I kind of had the idea people came to Vegas and got to see something they didn’t see at home. But now I’ve accumulated so much material over the years here I feel that I would be able to offer something different when they came to see me live, and I could do the DVD. It coincides with PBS’ first comedy special, which is very exciting. I’m thrilled that I’m able to do something like this, filming the show for PBS. My special is airing on PBS here after the “Antiques Road Show” because they figure I’ll look young after a 400-year-old table. What I’m really hoping is that we can prove to the rest of the country that Las Vegas supports its PBS station. The great thing about Las Vegas and PBS, this is the first comedy special they’ve ever done as a pledge drive. Those who pledge donations for PBS are going to get first crack at the DVD with extra material on it and my new book that’s coming out at the same time.

2. The book

It’s a collection of essays, comedic essays about getting older, called “I Still Have It, I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It.” It was lots of fun to write. I’ve been writing it for a couple of years. After I finished “Turning the Tables” (a mystery romance novel) I started writing the essay book. I just alternate between fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is very, very difficult. It’s not that essays aren’t difficult, but it’s a different kind of skill and essays come easier to me, so I took a break from fiction and wrote some essays. After I finished that book my husband, Martin (Bergmann), and I wrote the play, so I haven’t really figured out what I’m going to do next. Right now I want to do the best job I can do for my PBS special and promoting my new book.

3. The city

Las Vegas is so energizing. Something new is happening here all the time. It’s very inspiring. It’s a city where you feel like you can get things done. So many things are created here every day. You wake up and there’s a new hotel, something’s being blown up, something’s being rebuilt. A new restaurant is opening, a new club is opening, a new show is opening. This is a very exciting town to live in. Lots of people have different opinions of Las Vegas. I want to tell the whole country what a great place this is to live. The restaurants and the hotels and the spas and shopping, plus a sense of community. I think the PBS special is a great opportunity to get the word out about Las Vegas.

4. The show

The 2,000th show is crafted a bit differently for the PBS special. I want to surprise people. The thing about the 2,000th show is that you can really get things right. The more you practice the more you do things right, and I’ve done things 2,000 times.

5. The work schedule

I do everything different every day. I don’t have a schedule. It depends on what I have to get done and what creative juices are flowing that particular day. The first thing I have to do is get my dog walked and get my daughter to school. After that, I see what’s left.

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