Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 6 p.m.
As Robin Leach winds down his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — with a visit to Pisa and its Leaning Tower, plus, a stop in fashionable Milan — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with new Riviera resident comedian Matt Kazam, Las Vegas artist Michael Godard and big-bandleader Louis Prima Jr. Here’s Matt.
As I bring my new one-man comedy show “40 Is Not the New 20” to the Riviera, I have been reflecting on what motivated me to write the show. In life, we are always looking for our “aha moment.” The time when everything seems so clear and you realize what you were truly meant to do.
From Sir Isaac Newton, who had something as simple as an apple fall on his head, to Robert Kearns, who came up with the idea for the intermittent windshield wiper while driving his Ford Galaxy one rainy day, I, too, had an experience that lit a creative fuse in my mind.
Now my aha moment is more like Sir Isaac’s than Mr. Kearns in that gravity played a big part. I was 38 years old and had been performing standup comedy for nearly 18 years. Writing jokes, getting laughs and making a living. I was very good at it. Heck I have been making people laugh ever since I was 3 years old, performing for family and friends at Sunday dinners.
I had talent. I had an act. I honed my craft. What I didn’t have was my point-of-view. I had the engine, just not the proper fuel. I found that fuel in the most unlikely of places: the bathroom floor.
So, as I said, gravity played a part, but it was not an apple falling on my head, but rather me falling on the floor. I was taking a shower, getting ready for a show like I did thousands of times before. This time I slipped and tumbled out of the shower and cracked my head on the sink cabinet knob.
As I laid on the floor with blood trickling down my face from a gash that would need eight stitches to close, a flash of genius struck me — and it wasn’t the mild concussion talking. All I could think about was the phrase I had heard so many people from all walks of life repeat: “40 is the new 20.”
I wasn’t concerned with my injury or the show I was clearly going to be late for — or even how I was explain to my wife how this happened and that I got blood all over her favorite bathroom rug. No, all I could think about was the pedestrian phrase uttered by almost everyone in my generation: “40 is the new 20.” Before I could even pick myself up off the floor and tend to my wound, I had the first joke in what would become my new one-man Las Vegas show.
The joke that started it all and became the nucleus for 69 minutes of material was my indictment of the notion that 40 is the new 20 because when I was 20, I was having sex in the shower, and now at almost 40, I am falling in there all by myself.
I didn’t know at that moment of what was to come and that one day I would realize my boyhood dream of having my own Las Vegas show, but I did know I had to get this joke out there. So instead of going to the hospital like I should have, I patched myself up, put on a baseball cap and rushed to the show I had that night.
I opened the show with that joke and in the car ride over wrote a few more punch lines and just told my story. I knew from the crowd reaction to my truth that I was on to something. I left the comedy club, went to the emergency room and seven years later arrived on the Las Vegas Strip with “40 Is Not the New 20.”
Comedian Matt Kazam has lost 120-plus pounds over the past couple of years through a vegan diet and juicing. Along the way, he’s cured himself from several ailments, and his wife and he just had a baby girl after being told that it was impossible.
Kazam’s “40 Is Not the New 20” debuts at Riviera Comedy Club on Monday, Aug. 25. The shows start at 10 p.m., is $40 plus taxes and fees and runs Mondays through Saturdays.
Be sure to read our other guest columns today from Las Vegas big-bandleader Louis Prima Jr. and Las Vegas artist Michael Godard. On Sunday, it’s star chef Rick Moonen, museum maverick Tom Zaller and Eric and Jayne Post of “Marriage Can Be Murder.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
With its glass, star-lit exterior, visitors can't miss the Riviera when driving down the Strip. As the first high-rise to open on the Las Vegas Strip, featuring a nine-story hotel, the Riviera has seen more than 50 years as an entertainment destination in Las Vegas. Top bill acts like Liberace, Dean Martin and the long-running Splash revue (closed in 2006) have graced its showrooms over time.
The Riviera still offers its share of entertainment options with topless revue "Crazy Girls," a comedy club and "Illusions," starring Jan Rouven.
The 100,000-square foot casino has been featured in many films like "Casino," "Austin Powers" and "21." Although the hotel has passed through a long list of owners over the years it has always held on to it's unique theme (for Las Vegas) in that it lacks any particular theme. It also features a William Hill Race & Sports Book walk-up betting window right off the sidewalk on the Strip.
The Riviera has dining options well covered, from seafood and steaks at R Steak and Seafood, a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner fare at Banana Leaf Café to an international cuisine at the R Buffet.