22nd Apr2014

Don Rickles Doesn’t Disappoint at Potowatomi Casino

by rockchicago


No suspense. I was placed in the second row along a wide aisle, a great seat in the line of fire from the stage.
Lots of anticipation of getting picked on from my vantage point in what looked to be not a sold out house at show time.
At 8:15 ,the curtain goes up and the great sound of a pro big band, like an old time late night talk show,
embraces the now full house sold out show.

A 14 piece entourage, directed by Vincent Falcone, tuning up for the show support. I thought an awfully big, expensive group for a small tour of a small little Jewish man.  But, small, he was not , maybe by physical stature , but certainly not by his life and accomplishments and ability to make the world laugh while tearing their hearts out . Ladies and Gentleman ,………Mr. Don Rickles.

Now, another 15 minutes of video clips showing Don with Sinatra, Reagan, Carson ,etc….all the greats, and finally he waddles out with the help of a cane he uses (due to an infection in his leg) and with the help of 88 years of worldly keen observation of people and behaviors he starts with the insults. Afterall, we are in Milwaukee, a great place for great stereotypes. He is just as sharp and fast and witty and spontaneous and sporadic and manic as he was 50 years ago,
except for his physical limitations, and I just wanted to invite him over for a Passover dinner with cousin Mike.
It would’ve been a ball! ……another ten minutes of great video clips and time for audience participation.

The guy next to me gets picked ( whew !), along with another guy in the first row, both equally fulfilling the middle class value Milwaukeean stereotype.  One, the guy next to me, a Harley rider, fully attired in black jeans equipped with chain and wallet, a long sleeve Harley T shirt, beard and sun glasses and bore the brunt of Don’s fashion comments.
The other, I think was a re-born dairy farmer also not dressed for the theatre occasion. They were good sports and gave the Don a chance to perform his best spontinaeity.

Another ten minutes of video with Sinatra and such, a few songs that he sang along with more video, a total of one and a quarter hours, about 45 minutes of Don live, and then his support. A complete pro “Vegas” type show with a great legend that soon won’t be forgot. Anyways…………..

Reviewed by Earl Rosen

30th Aug2013

“Mr. Vegas” Shows His Stuff at the Flamingo

by rockchicago


Known as “Mr. Vegas,” George Wallace has been around for as long as I can remember. He is best friends with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and knows everyone you can think of in show business. On my first night in Las Vegas, I heard a lot about Wallace, so I was curious to see just how funny he is, and boy was he funny.

Most comedians like to pick people out of the audience, and that’s exactly what he did. Ripping apart Jews, Muslims, Chinese, etc.; he was definitely on a roll. He covered other topics as well like if he became President of the United States, and asked everyone to ask him questions, He did cater to everyone in the audience.

Of most comedians I’ve seen, Wallace is truly one of the best ones up there. He even has his own theater at the Flamingo hotel. Even though the show only lasted about 75 minutes, it was still well worth it. He kept telling the audience that he wanted to stretch out the time of the show the night I went.

Before the end of the show, Wallace picked people out of the audience and gave away some of his merchandise. At one point, he told ministers and other high members of churches to meet in the middle for a prayer and gave them free dinners for participating. He was a very generous guy. After the show, Wallace signed merchandise for anyone that bought it and shook their hand.

Despite being a short show, I definitely recommend this show to anyone that comes through Las Vegas. He isn’t called “Mr. Vegas” for nothing!

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 8/23/13

09th Jan2013

2 Women of Songs & Comedy: Susan Werner and Sandra Bernhard

by rockchicago


This week I had the very unique opportunity to review two very different artists, both of whom use music, and humor as corner stones of their acts. First up, Susan Werner, whom I saw at SPACE, which is a wonderful venue for music in Evanston. For those of you who aren’t acquainted with Ms. Werner, here’s a bit of a back story. Born in 1965, Werner grew up on her family’s hog farm. But she took to singing rather than farming. When she was three, she grabbed attention at a family party with her rendition of a beer commerical. “That was it. My life direction was fixed” Werner told Paul McKay of the Ottawa Citizen.

Werner attended the University of Iowa, graduating with a voice degree. With her eye on big things, she moved to Philadelphia in 1987 to study opera singing at Temple University. She received her master’s degree from Temple.

A concert by Texas singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith unleashed Werner’s own creativity. “She was singing—her own songs about her home, Texas,” Werner told the Boston Herald. “I realized it was as noble, as honorable as classical singing. And I thought I could do this”.

And do it she did.

The evening started out with a strong Chicago connection as Werner gave us a charming ode to her new home town with the jazz tinged “Give Me Chicago Any Day,” complete with Michelle Obama references, and the heartbreaking break-up lament “Stay on your side of town”. Keeping the audience glued, she stripped down to plain black tee-shirt to get down to the business at hand and the very funny “Don’t work with your friends,” demonstrating Werner’s firm hand with a comedic lyric. From there, we had a stunning “I Just Want to be With You.” At this point Ms. Werner was joined by the extremely talented Trina Hamlin, on percussion, and back up vocals. The two combined for a Bonnie Raitt tinged “I Just Got On My Red Dress For You” that brought the house down.

Whether she was paying homage to her farm roots with the stirring hymns “My Lord Did Trouble Me”, and a down and dirty “If God is Great Why is Your Heaven so Small,”

“Barbed Wire Boys” a memorial to the Midwestern man, or fan favorites “May I Suggest/Movie of My Life.” Not one to rest on her laurels of the familiar, Werner shows no fear of putting her spin on others work as with Susan’s plaintive “Manhattan/Kansas.” Always one to challenge her audiences, she gave us a preview of her upcoming album The Hayseed Project, The Ballad of “Patrick Lundquest” a brilliant take on climate change from a framers eyes, and the hilarious “Pesticides Done Made Me Gay.”

In fine form as always, Susan Werner delighted one and all with her performance, voice, wit, and unending charm. She is the most underrated songwriter we have, bar none, and I will be looking forward to her next outing, and going back to see more at SPACE. An evening like this can easily be ruined by poor sound, and it’s nice to see someone with a true listening ear like Eric Molly running the sound board supporting such a wonderful artist. It says a lot about a venue. SPACE  is located at 1245 Chicago Avenue Evanston, Illinois 60202 www.evanstonspace.com


Next up Sandra Bernhard.

Whom I had the pleasure to see at The City Winery. Another hidden jewel in the city in the West Loop. Now no one ever called Sandra Bernhard a simple girl at heart. Ms. Bernhard, no longer an L.A. resident since she sold her house in the Valley, and no great devotee of the California cult known as Trader Joe’s, this Whole Foods organic-only New York-based mama wasn’t planning to return so soon to the stage, where she had such a success last summer with “Sandra Bernhard: I Love Being Me, Don’t You?”

But she was asked, she reports, to “throw together” another show, and she was happy to oblige her hard-core fans, who naturally just want to spend more time in her relentlessly ironic company and won’t really care that her latest piece is just a scattershot compilation of riffs and musical experiments.

A work-in-progress by Bernhard is indeed preferable to no performance by her at all. Even when her vamping goes nowhere, she has a way of keeping her audience in her crooked orbit. It’s a slightly surreal space. One that may leave you feeling at times as though you’re tumbling down the snarkiest of blog holes.

The targets of her mischievous curiosity include Bristol Palin, Tyra Banks, Cindy Crawford and Lady Gaga, the last of whom inspires Bernhard’s best bit of musical parody. Backed by a band, she does an extended take on “The Edge of Glory,” reinterpreting the song every which way and throwing into relief the hilarious monotony of its lyrics.

Bernhard struggled with her voice throughout much of the show. Her rendition of “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!,” a song she was provoked to do by perky Kristin Chenoweth after guest starring on the TV series “GCB,” left her gasping for water.

But pop has always been her métier, and she opened with a captivatingly hip version of Streisand’s “Stoney End” and closed with REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” that she robustly powered through.

The different segments of “Sandrology” are held together largely by non sequiturs. “Who knew Michele Bachmann and I had so much in common?” she asks apropos of nothing. Turns out they were both in Israel way back when, a coincidence that Bernhard chalks up to Bachmann doing “early reconnaissance work for the Rapture.”

Jumping from subject to subject (her daughter’s cell phone use, pink slime, celebrity fragrances), Bernhard may not have figured out how to artistically connect her material, but her social critique is reliably on the money. She’s still the urban-chic canary in the pop cultural coal mine, and hearing her sound her caustic alarms remains a giddy pleasure.

The City Winery is located at 1200 W. Randolph St. 312-733-9463, www.citywinery.com

Susan Werner reviewed by Ty Perry on January 4th, 2013

Sandra Bernhard reviewed by Ty Perry on January 5th, 2013

19th Nov2012

Kevin Pollak Brings the Laughs to the IMPROV

by rockchicago

To listen to the interview click here: Interview with Kevin Pollak


Saturday night, I went down to the IMPROV in Schaumburg for something I would’ve never thought possible; to watch and meet actor/comedian Kevin Pollak. Little did I know it would be as funny as it was. You may remember Kevin Pollak from such films as The Usual Suspects, Grumpy Old Men, Casino, The Whole Nine Yards, etc. Having the same name as him has been interesting for a long time, with a lot of people thinking I’m him, and he knows that funny enough. But it was finally nice to put a face to the name.

Kevin Pollak recently released a new memoir called How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs. Throughout the hour-long stand-up show, Kevin recited a lot of his jokes from his book; even quoting something Matthew Perry wrote in the book about him. Having read the book already before seeing the show, some of the material wasn’t as funny for me as it was for others, since I knew a lot of the jokes from the book.

Though, there were a lot of jokes that cracked me up as well as the rest of the audience. Kevin went into stories of different situations where he met other celebrities and did impressions of them. I do admit reading the book is one thing, but seeing the stories in his book come to life on stage with Kevin re-enacting them works better. He sped through some of his famous impersonations including his famous Christopher Walken, Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, William Shatner, and his newest one Jason Statham. His Christopher Walken impersonation is so famous he’s the number one result if you search “Christopher Walken impersonation” on Google. Kevin also developed a weekly comedy podcast called Talkin’ Walkin (www.talkinwalkin.com) where Kevin speaks only as Christopher Walken while discussing life and the cornucopia of crap that fills it.

In the interview, which you can hear above, Kevin also speaks about his Award-Winning online chat show Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show (www.kevinpollakschatshow.com). Started in 2009, Kevin said he’d never thought it would come to where it is today. Kevin’s had several famous guests on his show already including Alan Arkin, Dana Carvey, Matthew Perry, Paul Rudd, Jason Lee, Rob Reiner and many, many more.

Overall, as a stand-up comedy show, Kevin Pollak is a great joy to watch. Not only is he extremely funny, but he’s a great guy to meet and talk to as well. He did say the IMPROV is one of his favorite places to perform in the country. I can totally see why. When he first came out, the audience was cheering. Whenever Kevin did and impersonation, the audience was cheering; and at the end of the night, the audience was cheering for more. But, alas, we couldn’t get that. I guess we’ll just have to wait till Kevin comes back to Chicago. What was great at the end of the show was Kevin was nice enough to do a meet-and-greet with all his fans, sign books and take pictures.

To find out who’s coming to the IMPROV next visit: www.chicago.improv.com

To find out more about Kevin Pollak visit: www.kevinpollak.tv

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 11/17/12

05th Nov2012

Cheech and Chong Light Up the Rialto Theatre

by rockchicago

Just a few days before Halloween, the Rialto Square Theatre featured the revolutionary comedy duo of Cheech and Chong.  The partnership took off in the early 1970s with multiple hit comedy albums including Big Bambu, the bestselling comedy record of 1972, and Los Cochinos, the third album they released, won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy album.

They then transcended to movies later that decade.  Up in Smoke was produced in 1978 and would be considered as their flagship piece and most popular flick.  There were seven additional films to follow.  Although most recognized for their drug-based, outrageous humor, this team possesses multiple entertainment skill sets.  As they later showcased, they perform comedy skits, musical numbers, solo standup routines, and recreate some of their funniest movie scenes.

The Rialto Square Theatre entranceway is quite a spectacle: it has loads of colorful vintage wall art and unique decorations everywhere.  Erected in 1926, I learned that this “palace for the people” is a non-for-profit venue but is very well maintained nevertheless.  Inside the lobby area, there were several vendor options for all types of refreshments including cocktails, beers and baked munchies.   Also available was a wide selection of comedy memorabilia and even a college recruiting booth looking to enroll students (needless to say, the college did not attract many visitors on this particular evening).

I decided to scope the crowd from the upper deck before the show began.  One thing was clear – virtually everyone walking in had gray or very little hair.  The average age appeared to be mid to late fifties.  Something else was apparent, a large chunk of the ticket holders were wearing unusual clothing.  Since Halloween fell on a Wednesday this year, it allowed people to dress up the weekend before as well as the weekend after the holiday.  Some folks wore costumes inspired by Cheech and Chong while others wore more traditional outfits.

At the start of the show, every seat looked to be occupied.  The “Cheech & Chong Last Laugh Comedy Fest” show began with Shelby Chong greeting the crowd.  She told stories including how she met her husband Tommy as well as how Cheech helped form the special pair.  Shelby delivered a number of jokes and received laughs.  However, I couldn’t see her being successful doing her own tour.

Much of her material covered was raunchy.  Thankfully, there were no children around and the crowd was mature enough to handle this humor.  After roughly 15 minutes, Shelby concluded her standup and made the introduction everyone awaited.

The two rebel legends, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong arrived on the stage. For many years, this tandem parted ways to pursue solo careers and there were rumors that they had a falling out.  This made it even sweeter to see them reunite live.  Tommy had relatively short gray hair with a groomed beard.   Cheech appeared to look the same as he has for decades.  They both sat on stools facing the audience with Shelby in the middle.  To begin there was a Q & A segment where the questions were taken from the audience beforehand.  This was a laid-back, insightful opening segment.  It allowed everyone in the audience some time to savor the opportunity to see these two famous “stoner”comedians have fun.

Later in the show, Marin and Chong described how they landed their first record deal.  They both laughed about what it was like filming and acting in their movies.  It was a treat to see them together reminiscing about the glory days. Serious topics were also covered.  Tommy spoke about his ordeal when he got arrested for selling glass water pipes (A.K.A. bongs) in 2003.  He was sentenced to 9 months in jail wrote a book about his experience.  Little was said about his incarceration, but he joked that had many fans on the inside, including many of the guards.

There was a steady stream of comedy throughout the evening.  The funniest segment I enjoyed was Chong posing as a blind blues musician.  Not only was the sound authentic and appealing, but the lyrics were hilarious.  He moaned about his hard life and consequential heavy whiskey drinking.  This caused him funny/embarrassing health side effects, so he switches from drinking to smoking weed and his life improves.

Tommy played the guitar for multiple other songs.  Cheech  sang a number of songs including a tune titled “Does your Mama Know about me?”  To end the evening, Cheech, Chong, Shelby and a special guest bass player song a motivational song lobbying for the legalization of marijuana.

For anyone who has followed this comedy duo, this show is fantastic.  Others who might not be familiar with them might not enjoy the inside jokes and stories as much.  As a result, some people reveled the experience more than others. Taken as a whole, I believe this show was entertaining for everyone.  I commend everyone involved with this tour for their charitable efforts, variety of entertainment, and continued devotion to their fans.

Reviewed by Sean Heraty on 10/27/12

Rating: 3/5

Important Links:



22nd Oct2012

Jim Belushi Comes Back with The Comedy Bar Re-Launch

by rockchicago

To listen to the interview, click here: Interview with Jim Belushi, Robert Belushi & Kyle Lane


The Comedy Bar is a comedy club that has been around in the heart of Downtown Chicago for quite a while now. Some of the great things about this place is there is no drink minimum, tickets to their shows are only $10, and seating is very close to the stage.

Owner Kyle Lane wanted to set the perfect comedy room in Chicago. With comedians from Chicago and other area coming in to perform, the club really sets the bar on service and comedy at the same time. It is also one of the most intimate comedy clubs I’ve ever been to.

Tonight, we went to the re-launching of The Comedy Bar. As my girlfriend and I entered the club, we were greeted by Jim Belushi himself, asking us if we wanted to take a photo with him. He is a great guy, and very laid back. Just from that, I can already see the hospitality in the club. We were then shown to our seats.

The show started out with the emcee, local comedian Adam Burke, who was picking on the front row of the audience, asking them what the most memorable part of their year was. Many answers were given, and he just played off of them. He performed for about 10-15 minutes. Then, Burke introduced the next comic Russ Williamson.

Russ Williamson was hysterical. People may have seen him on the NBC show Chicago Fire as the Irish bartender. His comedy was spot on and the audience and I couldn’t stop laughing. Bringing up topics about home life and weight issues; he seemed like a pro at what he was doing up there.



After Russ’ set, he introduced Mr. Jim Belushi. Belushi came on stage with his harmonica, while a backing track started to the tune “Sweet Home Chicago.” Belushi played the blues harp along with the music, while singing here and there, and leading everyone in a sing-a-long by the end. He then gave a short speech about how happy he is about partnering up with Kyle Lane at the club. As he spoke about Kyle, he brought him up on stage, and Kyle gave a short thank you speech to Jim and the audience.

After Kyle’s speech, Belushi introduced The Chicago Board of Comedy, Belushi’s improv group with his son Robert. The other members of the board included According to Jim co-star Larry Joe Campbell, and local Second City Chicago comedians Cody Dove and Tim Stoltenberg.  The musical director at the piano was Matt Cohen.


Together, this improv group could not have been any funnier. With the audience yelling out suggestions for scenes, the actors worked with what they got and cracked everyone up with the results. Talking with Larry Joe Campbell after the show about improv, he told me that it’s a lot of work and very different than memorizing a script. Larry was discovered at Second City by Bob Saget, who gave him his big break. From the looks of every other actor on stage, it seems Second City is where you should be, especially for comedy. The one thing I love about improve shows, is it just keeps getting funnier and funnier. With this group, I had tears in my eyes.


All in all it was a great experience. After the show, I spoke with Jim and Robert Belushi, along with owner Kyle Lane. You can hear the interview above.

The Comedy Bar is a great and special place to see comedy live and up close. I’m looking forward to seeing many comedians here in the near future. I highly recommend this place to anyone who’s looking to go see a great comedy show and spend their night in lovely downtown Chicago, and hey, it’s affordable too!

For more info on The Comedy Bar and to see the upcoming schedule visit: www.comedybarchicago.com

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 10/18/12

17th Oct2012

Comedian Dana Carvey Living Life Through Laughter at the Arcada Theater

by rockchicago


Dana Carvey got his creative juices flowing again for a sold out, one night performance at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Dana is back on the comedic circuit again and audiences couldn’t be happier. The now 57 year old actor/comedian is best known for his seven seasons on “Saturday Night Live” and for his popular characterizations of “The Church Lady”, Garth from “Wayne’s World”, and spot on impersonations of everyone from Johnny Carson to President George H.W. Bush.

Carvey is an immensely talented, versatile and just an all-around, good guy.  His ability to crack jokes and make pithy observations had the crowd laughing hysterically. Relating humorous observations about everyday life, incorporating his own aches and pains, as well as tossing his aging parents in the mix, made us feel like we were chatting with an old friend.

Carvey gave superlative renditions of countless political figures from President Barack Obama, to Ross Perot, to Presidents Carter, Clinton, and the Bushes.  He linked them all into the “Reagan Oracle” routine.  He kept the crowd laughing and focused for over an hour with the re-enactment of the debate between Romney and Obama, the Joe Biden and Paul Ryan bit that basically wrote itself, along with some of our old favorites, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hans & Franz.

To get the crowd in the upcoming holiday spirit, Carvey brought out his guitar and harmonica to entice our ears with a Neil Young parody Christmas song.  The show came to a close with Carvey bringing pieces of his one-man sketch together in a brilliant culmination that brought the crowd to their feet in applause, craving just a little bit more.  Carvey gave into the craving by participating in a Q & A, led by Arcada Theater owner, Ron Onesti.  The comedian credited Ross Martin from the “Wild, Wild West” series as being an influence on his career.  Some of Dana’s favorite variety shows were classics such as; Laugh In, Smothers Brothers, Carol Burnett and The Flip Wilson Show.  Carvey boasted, “Stand up is great for your brain and it’s a great skill to have.”  As the all familiar Church Lady would say, “Well, isn’t that special?”  Yes, Mr. Carvey, you certainly are!

Reviewed by Traci Andersen on 10/13/12

21st Sep2012

Comedian Tom Dreesen Shows True Class at The Laugh Factory

by rockchicago


Tom Dreesen recently performed at the Chicago Laugh Factory.  He was in town to try out some new material for an upcoming performance of his one man show, “An Evening of Laughter and Stories of Sinatra”

Dressen, according to a brief video before his performance stated, “was born in a manger in Harvey, Illinois.” Although that is slightly exaggerated, he has had an extremely blessed career.   In the 1960’s he made history by being part of the only black/white comedy team with his partner Tim Reid, later known as “Venus Flytrap” on the television show “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Dreesen’s solo career has been extremely successful, consisting of several television appearances on several talk shows and programs.  In addition to touring the country headlining his own show, he has been the opening act for several performers: Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr., and Smokey Robinson. He also toured for over 14 years with Frank Sinatra.

Dreesen is always a sight for sore eyes on late night TV. I have been very lucky to see him open for Sinatra and it was always the start of a great evening.  The performance at the Laugh Factory was amazing.  On television he is always on for a very limited amount of time. When he opened for Sinatra he was on for about 10-15 minutes.  At the laugh Factory he truly showed that he is an amazing comedian, and in my opinion, extremely underrated.  His comedy is insightful, at times self-deprecating, and clean. He doesn’t need to drop an f bomb in order to get a laugh. Dreesen is a master storyteller, with amazing insight.  After his hour long show, he also met with the audience, taking pictures, shaking hands and signing autographs.

Frank Sinatra who is known as a “saloon singer”, referred to Dreesen as a “saloon comedian.” Sinatra explained that “We’re a couple of neighborhood guys.” Not only is Dreesen a “neighborhood guy”, he is a home town guy that did very well and has never forgotten his roots. Every year organizes “A Day for Darlene,” a series of celebrity events to raise money to help fight Multiple Sclerosis, in honor of his sister who had the disease.

On October 14, Tom will be performing his one man show “An Evening of Laughter and Stories of Sinatra” at the Thompson Center Theater in Chicago. For ticket info call 773-276-7800.

Reviewed by Jeff Rachman on 9/9/12

16th Jun2012

Penn & Teller Mystify and Enlighten Horseshoe Crowd

by rockchicago


Places tend to get even busier during the summer in the Midwest, especially on a warm Friday evening. There was no exception when the world famous Penn & Teller rolled into the Horseshoe Casino in early June.

The Venue is located deep in the heart of the bustling gaming complex.  On this particular evening, men and women of various ages assembled to see the famous Penn & Teller showcase.  I noticed a wide variation of ticket holders.  Some young women wore ravishing dresses while other men and women sported shorts and t-shirts.  There was definitely a mixed demographic, but everyone attending was above the casino minimum age of 21.

Believe it or not, not everybody is familiar with Penn & Teller, my parents for instance.  For those who are not, here is what you have missed so far….

They joined forces in the mid-seventies and began their bid for world domination.  Separately and together, they have performed Broadway, Las Vegas (the longest headliner show), and numerous TV cameo appearances – shows including David Letterman (20+ times), The Simpsons, Friends, Top Chef, Dancing with the Stars, and MTV Cribs.  The tandem has even hosted their own Showtime show called: Penn & Teller: Bullshit!  Critically acclaimed, this intriguing show has received multiple Emmy Award nominations.

Despite all of the recognition, awards, and money (I presume they have made), the stage to begin the show was plain, virtually barren.  Before any human embarked upon the stage, there was nothing to be seen other than a top half portion “&” red symbol.  Then around 8:05 pm, two figures entered the stage.  One was definitely Penn and the other shorter man appeared to be Teller.  However, there was a large, brick block covering/sealing the individual’s head.  Everyone assumed that this was the famous quite sidekick, but was this Teller?

The first magic trick of the evening would reveal the apparent truth.  It required a volunteer from the show who wore eye glasses.  Naturally, Penn selected one of the attractive young women near the front section of the stage.  She had unique, pinkish-red glasses.  After she stepped on the stage, Penn politely borrowed the lady’s glasses and placed them in his top-left suit jacket pocket.

After a series of successful jokes and other distractions, Penn broke the heavy rock block atop the man’s head with a sledge hammer.  It was enough to break the material, but not knock down the man.  When the dust cleared, it was in fact Teller and to everyone’s surprise the one-of-a-kind glasses were on his face!

Throughout the night, the team executed various skits for a strong hour and a-half without any breaks.  There were no “filler” acts, no pink slime to extend the duration, just the juiciest, best cuts for my comrades and me.

I could easily name eight to ten stunts masterly performed, but like good mysteries, it is better to overt the details.  I want to mention I was particularly impressed when certain tricks were revealed to the crowd so that they could see precisely how the “magic” was done.

Penn & Teller are a fantastic combo.  Penn Jilette has written a New York Times best seller: God No! Signs You Might Be an Atheist and Other Magic Tales as well as has starred on the Celebrity Apprentice reality TV show.  Brutally honest and with a high level of charisma, he could sell a show about “nothing” to anybody.

Teller, on the other hand, carries a special spellbinding stage presence.  Without announcing anything aloud verbally, he generates loads of attention and laughs.  As a virtual silent performer, he is an elite craftsman.

Together the two classy artists form an unmatchable combination of comedy and magic.  I found the dedication to the audience outstanding – at the closing of the show, Penn ate fire, burned his mouth and afterwards still volunteered to mingle with the crowd after the show in the lobby!

This premier act that will satisfy even the highest of expectations, regardless of the ticket price paid.  The evidence was apparent as everyone exited the arena – upwards of 75% of the people leaving were engaged in some sort of conversation, none with disappointment. Penn & Teller have set the bar very high for past, present, and future decades in their profession.

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Reviewed by Sean Heraty on 6/8/12

Rating: 5/5 stars

02nd May2012

My Night with “Mr. Warmth” Himself Don Rickles

by rockchicago


Don Rickles. What else is there to say? He is a legend in his own way, and I admire him greatly for that. On April 25, I went to see Don Rickles at the Potowatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, WI, and what a treat it was. It was probably one of the greatest moments in my life.

The night opened with a singer that Mr. Rickles picked out himself personally to open for him, her name was Nicole Henry, and boy was she good. Singing many standards from Rickles’ heyday, she sounded like a mix between Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan.

Together with what looked like a 12-piece big band, the sound was great. Then, the big moment arrived. Nicole introduced the legendary “Mr. Warmth” Don Rickles.

As Don came out, the orchestra played his theme song until he walked up to his music director, told him to stop, and told him he had it all wrong, and dropped the microphone.

Mr. Rickles proved his wit will never go away. He shared personal stories of how he met Frank Sinatra, as well as how he met Bob Newhart and James Cagney. He sang songs including, “I’m a Nice Guy” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as James Cagney.

Throughout the night, Rickles made fun of the whole audience, cracking Jew jokes here and there. There were plenty of Germans in the room, which gave Rickles room to go all out on that. He picked out one old couple, and said, “Is that your wife?” The guy goes, “Yes.” Rickles goes, “How could you marry that?” Rickles even said, as he was walking onstage for the first time, “It’s been a lifelong dream to play Milwaukee! What, are you kidding me? Who wants to play Milwaukee?”

People have always told me that it would be an honor to be insulted by Don Rickles. Rickles has been seen everywhere onstage, on TV and in movies. He insults everybody. That’s who he is. Rickles always picks out the first 2 rows in the audience to make fun of people. Lucky for me, I was sitting in the 2nd row, so I was just waiting to be made fun of.

Rickles picked out this young gentleman named Tyler from the first row, and told him to come up onstage. He started asking him questions, then told him to stand to his side, then he pointed ME out. WHAT?????? He said, “What’s your name, kid?” I said, “Kevin” He goes, “Come up here, come on, come on, hurry up!” I went up onstage with Tyler and Mr. Rickles. I couldn’t believe it. It has been a lifelong dream to meet Don Rickles, and it finally happened! Rickles wanted to do a skit with Tyler and I as Japanese soldiers, I believe. Don was hysterical. It was such an honor to be in his presence. I even did a Japanese impression that made him and the whole audience laugh. I made Don Rickles laugh. Inside, I said to myself, “I could die a happy man today.” After the skit, Tyler and I went back to my seat, and he wished me all the best, and thanked me and gave me a signed bottle of champagne. I’ll never touch that bottle, as that was a great memento of an unbelievable night and an unbelievable time.

Don Rickles is my idol. I’ve idolized him growing up. He gave one of the funniest performances onstage than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s no doubt that I will follow him anytime he comes near in the future to come.

Mr. Rickles just turned 86 years old, and boy does he still have it. Still has his health, his humor, and his livelihood, and I commend him greatly for that, and only wish him the best from here.

Overall, I have no more words to express how great this show was. I just went and bought Don Rickles’ books Rickles’ Book: A Memoir, which can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/Rickles-Book-A-Memoir-Don/dp/B002N2XGBS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335990504&sr=1-1 and Rickles’ Letters, which can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/Rickles-Letters-Don/dp/B002FL5FCA/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335990504&sr=1-3. He also has a DVD out called Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project out now as well. You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Warmth-The-Rickles-Project/dp/B000W04S24/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1335990646&sr=1-1.

You can find out where Mr. Rickles will be performing at http://www.donrickles.com/

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 4/25/12

Rating: 5/5