Thursday, May 19, 2011 | 3:05 p.m.
By Nikki Villoria
Laughs, sarcasm and politically incorrect statements were in abundance during last weekend’s show at Big Al’s Comedy Club at the Orleans. “I’m really happy with this club -- it’s beautiful,” said comedienne Grandma Lee, a fan favorite from America’s Got Talent.
The 200-seat theater was nearly full of audience members ready for an evening of comedy. “The venue here, it’s fantastic. It’s really great to see them put together a comedy club of this stature. There’s a lot of production value,” comedian Mark Minguey said.
Before headliner Grandma Lee, multiple opening acts got the crowd warmed up -- MC Corey Sweeney and comedians Anthony Padilla, Carly McMenoman and Minguey. After the four back-to-back routines, 76-year-old Grandma Lee took the stage. Before the crowd even had a chance to quiet their applause, her biting wit sent the audience into a frenzy of laughter.
After losing her husband to cancer in 1995, Lee began attending comedy workshops to deal with his passing. Since then, she has been taking comedy’s center stage around the country and at 75 was a finalist on AGT. One of her jokes on Saturday night reflected her sunny outlook on life:
“I always try going through life with a positive attitude, look on the bright side of sh*t. Went with my neighbor a while back to visit her grandmother, her grandmother had just had her leg amputated. And they’re sittin’ around all sad. I looked at that grandmother and I said, ‘You know what, I bet you $5 you can get half price on a pedicure!”
Incorporated into her routine, Grandma Lee told stories of her late husband, kids and friends. Punch line after punch line, she sent the crowd into bursts of laughter covering topics such as what it’s like to be a senior, the hilarious things grandkids say, kids today, the news and how to save yourself from foot-in-mouth moments.
Her routine was more than 30 minutes of colorful spunk that catches audience members by surprise at the sight of seeing sweet grandma sitting onstage swearing, hurling insults and saying whatever is on her mind.
“Grandma Lee is epic, and she’s still going. She’s still got it, and you can’t help but admire that,” Minguey said. Lee took a moment to tell of her favorite part about the life of a comic and revealed that “it’s great. My favorite part is going to different places, and this is my favorite place, Vegas.” She made it a point to incorporate Las Vegas into her routine, including one story about her first visit here.
“First time I came to Vegas was in the early ’80s. I came out with my ex-husband. He forgot his glasses. The whole damn time we were here, he was playin’ the change machines. Went home with a whole damn bag of quarters, said he broke even.”
Grandma Lee closed her show with a poem she wrote, which she said that she showcased in Winder, Ga., two days after 9/11. Since then, she has closed each of her shows by reciting it. After the performance and the final applause, the comedians greeted audience members by the door selling their merchandise.
Grandma Lee had a table of her routines on her CD I’m Just Sayin’, bobble heads, buttons, pens and magnets. “Half of the money of all my sales goes to my favorite charity St. Jude’s, so it’s a worthy cause,” she said.
Grandma Lee headlines at Big Al’s Comedy Club through July 2. Show times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 365-7075 or online at OrleansCasino.com.