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November 21, 2014

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Back by popular demand: Bootlegger’s open mic night

Inspired by ‘Cast Party’ event in New York, revue revived with new name

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For the revival of Bootlegger Bistro’s open mic Monday nights, Kelly Clinton gave the revue a new name: “Kelly Clinton’s Open Mic Cabaret.”

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A popular weekly open mic night returns to the Bootlegger Bistro on Monday.

The misnamed “Celebrity Karaoke” was one of the most popular weekly entertainment events in town during a three-year stay at the Bootlegger.

It drew standing-room-only crowds every Monday night to hear a wide variety of entertainment, from rank amateurs to some of the most talented performers in town. There were singers and musicians and jugglers and comedians and puppeteers. And all of it was free.

Entertainer Kelly Clinton, founder of the showcase, ended the revue two years ago for a variety of reasons. And she’s decided to bring it back to the Bootlegger, 7700 Las Vegas Blvd. South — for a variety of reasons — beginning at 9 p.m. Monday.

This time it will have a more descriptive title: “Kelly Clinton’s Open Mic Cabaret.”

“It never really was karaoke; it’s just a name that stuck,” she said.

One of the strongest motivations to bring back the show was public demand.

“Everywhere I went people would ask me, ‘When are you coming back?’ ” she said.

Another reason was an inspiring trip Clinton made to New York with her husband, Clint Holmes, and Bill Fayne, who performed many times at the celebrity night event.

“Most of the shows on Broadway are dark on Mondays,” Holmes said. “On Monday nights, many of the performers will attend ‘Jim Caruso’s Open Mic Cast Party.’ Caruso is Liza Minnelli’s musical director, so you’re liable to hear Liza or almost anyone at the show.”

Holmes and Clinton performed at the “Cast Party” and came away with a desire to resume the revue that had been so popular in Vegas.

In addition to the new title, there will be a few other changes in the Bootlegger show.

In the past a trio backed up the performers; now Clinton’s music director, Mike Clark, will play piano. The rest of the music will be on tracks.

“We have thousands,” Clinton said.

Also, there will be a greater attempt to encourage entertainers from the Strip to perform, mixing in with new talent.

Some of the top new performers will appear on the “Dennis Bono Show,” a syndicated radio program taped Thursdays at Sam’s Town. And they will have a chance to be highlighted at another Bootlegger weekly event — Celebrity Showcase.

“Entertainment is what makes this town special,” said Lorraine Hunt-Bono, whose family owns the Bootlegger.

“Kelly Clinton’s Open Mic Cabaret” will make it a little more special.

Shecky unsure about return

By all accounts Shecky Greene’s return to Vegas after a nine-year absence was a success.

All three nights of his engagement at the 500-seat Suncoast Showroom were sold out.

Greene was in his usual hilarious form.

The 83-year-old stand-up comedian showed younger comics how to make an audience laugh. The uncrowned king of comedy has not forgotten his craft. His timing is perfect.

Before he left town to return to Palm Springs, Calif., he said he was happy with his performance and his fans. He liked the room — “just like the one I had at the Riviera.

“I felt a lot of love with those audiences,” Greene said. “I’m very happy that I did it — but I don’t know that I would want to do it again. I have no plans to come back, at least not on a regular basis.”

He’s ambivalent about his entertainment future in Vegas.

He left it all on the stage. He sweated profusely as he went through his routine, which was like breezing down a superhighway and suddenly taking an exit ramp to another route which he traveled for a while and then got back on the main road. Greene kept several story lines going at once, leaving one behind to pursue another and then returning to the original anecdote.

By the end of the show he was exhausted.

“When you get to a certain age ...,” he said, leaving the rest unsaid.

In addition to his three nights, Greene joined a long list of entertainers who appeared at a benefit to help victims of the recent earthquake in Italy. He performed a 20-minute set.

“I thought I could go through these three days like nothing,” he said. “But Sunday afternoon I did the benefit and Sunday night it hit me. I don’t know how Don Rickles does it. He’s phenomenal. He does a lot of work.”

He noted the dramatic changes in the town’s entertainment.

“There’s not so much of the individual performers anymore,” Greene said. “I think Vegas misses that. It needs a little bit more variety, like Old Vegas.”

He said he’d like to come back again if for no other reason than to see if he is still a draw to the general public.

“Most of those who came to my shows at the Suncoast were more like friends of mine,” Greene said.

He said maybe he’d like to try it on the Strip.

“I say that now, but probably when it comes up, I won’t do it.”

Or he might.

“It’s too early to decide about coming back. Maybe I would consider once a month or so. My wife said from now on, no more than two shows. I said, ‘How about no shows?’ ”

He said the only thing that troubled him about his three shows at the Suncoast was that he didn’t get a chance to do his George Burns bit.

“I kept saying I’m going to do it tonight, going to do it tonight, and I didn’t do it.”

Oh well, he can do the bit when he comes back. Or not.

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