Friday, Dec. 20, 1996 | 3:43 a.m.
Louie Anderson had a goodly house, an excellent turnout six days before Christmas, in Bally's Celebrity Room Thursday. Anderson's leisurely pace and impeccable timing, plus use of pauses for punctuation, is the best since the late Jack Benny was in his prime. Louie just walks on sans fanfare and, as usual, begins with a topical observation, the funny side of tragedy, gently handled.
This was followed by 20 minutes or so of observations on the airport, gaming, Caesars Forum Shops and the talking statues, hotel rooms and beds, before doing "Where are you from?," a true impromptu with audience members. Very few comedians can do this and be consistently funny, working without a net, doing so without offending anyone.
At the halfway mark, he discusses his mother, then his dad, then the two of them together. All of this is warm, funny, reaching all of us in a very personal way. Anderson was one of 11 children, with an alcoholic father and a mother who coped. All of this was done with taste, never maudlin, never preaching. Yet he did end this segment with an eloquent plea that we be nice to one another, know and respect one another, and communicate especially with our children. His holiday observations made for an effective closer.
The first 30 minutes were spent with Hispanic comic Luke Torres, an impressionist of sorts, using a variety of well-known voices to make his points, sometimes with satire, other times, pointing out incongruities. He covers a lot of areas rapidly but without seeming to hurry. Well-received, he set up Anderson's entrance very effectively.
You won't spend a nicer -- or a funnier -- 90 minutes anywhere between now and Christmas Day.