Las Vegas Sun

December 14, 2017

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The scene: Sweets’ raging band, Anderson’s odd Emmy nod, and a Vault-ian memory

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Don Spiro

Melody Sweets keeps ‘em coming back to Absinthe.

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is MDV Entertainment rehearsal studios off West Oquendo Road in VegasVille. The moment caught is indeed a rehearsal, for the band to work it out in advance of Melody Sweets' “Call of the Wild: Jungle Burlesque” charity show at midnight Saturday at the Spiegeltent at Caesars Palace.

The band is as wild as some of the acts (and we are counting Brian Thomas in a tiger suit in that description), with sax great Eric Plante leading a collective of trumpet ace David Perrico, guitarist Steven Lee, bassist Rochon Westmoreland, drummer Pepe Jimenez, percussionist Gabriel Falcon and keyboardist Matt Green. The great live band is one of the selling points for this show (and here is where I note that advance tickets are $25 for GA, $30 night-of and still on sale at www.melodysweets.com).

All proceeds will benefit the SARMOTI Foundation, founded by Siegfried & Roy and dedicated to the protection and preservation of such exotic cats as tigers, lions, cheetahs, panthers and leopards. Sweets, starring in “Absinthe” at least through Oct. 21 (the future of the show still being a source of speculation), will be joined by such burlesque and circus stalwarts as high-wire artist Lijana Wallenda and Her Wire Walking Wonders; Andrew Adams and Will Howard (both of whom have performed in The Frat Pack high-wire act in “Absinthe”); Scotty the Blue Bunny; 2015 Miss Exotic World titlist Trixie Little; the crossbow act Mr. & Mrs. G; former “Zumanity” cast member and current Baobab Stage at Town Square manager and artist Wassa Coulibaly; and King of Burlesque Captain Kidd.

With that, we move to the realm of television and stand-up comedy:

• Louie Anderson caught a brick, as they say, with the random phone call from Louis C.K. offering a plumb role as Zach Galifianakis’ mother in the FX series “Baskets.” The offer arrived out of nowhere, essentially, sparked by a conversation between C.K. and Galifianakis, co-creators of the series.

As Anderson, headlining Friday and Saturday night at South Point Showroom, recalls: “Zach was telling Louis what he wanted out of this role, and he was saying, ‘It’s a voice, a particular voice, and I’ll know it when I hear it.’ And Louis C.K. said, ‘You mean, like Louie Anderson?’ And Zach said, ‘That’s it! Get him!’”

Since, Anderson has been nominated for an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series (the awards are to be announced Sept. 16).

“It’s the role of a lifetime,” Anderson says. “Let’s face it, I’m 62 years old, and there aren’t a lot of roles out there for 62-year-old comics.” He based the portrayal of Christine Baskets on his own mother, who held together a family of 11 kids “with a father who was a disappointment, where every day it was a family feud,” evoking the name of the game show he once hosted.

The list of Anderson’s fellow nominees is formidable: Andre Brougher of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Tony Hale of “Veep” (last year’s winner), Tituss Burgess of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Ty Burrell of “Modern Family,” Keegan-Michael Key of “Key and Peele” and Matt Walsh, also of “Veep.”

“They are all great, great actors,” Anderson says. “I already got the prize just by being nominated with that field.”

Timing, once again, has worked in Anderson’s favor. He’s one lucky fella. He landed the role in “Baskets” just as his run at the Plaza was ending.

He says he was ready to wrap up his career in Vegas. Instead, “I am playing in a great room and doing what I love for people who want to see me. I am really loving it right now.”

• “Puppet Up! Uncensored” has opened at Sands Showroom at Venetian. A great moment from one of the previews was a group conversation among the show’s Hot Dog Puppets, talking of the benefits of a vegan diet. A pertinent question: “If I eat myself, am I still vegan?”

I think the answer was, you are vegan if all you eat is your fingernails.

A quick feel on this show: It’s largely improv, with six comic puppeteers working with a selection of 60 puppets. Host Patrick Bristow fields and filters suggestions from the audience, and the show builds horsepower from there. The production it reminds me of most is the old “Second City” show at Flamingo Las Vegas. It was smart, funny, never repetitive … and never found its audience. This collection of Muppet-like figures will need to hit the streets to indoctrinate fans of live entertainment to avoid that fate. Again, it will take time. But it’s a funny show, and Bristow is a first-rate host.

• “Raiding the Rock Vault” is closing with a final rock show Sunday night at Tropicana Theater. I’ve always called the production “The Asterisk Show,” as it somehow managed to stay onstage in defiance of financial performance. But it was always, always a thunderous experience. A favorite moment:

As the show opened at Las Vegas Hilton, members of the band had befriended then-Las Vegas Wranglers President Billy Johnson, who was a frequent visitor to the show (we went together several times, actually). Johnson had arranged for the musicians to wear Wrangler jerseys during the Rock Vault take of the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” as they had worn L.A. Kings jerseys during a performance of the song at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The night they debuted, the audience went nuts. It was a pretty sweet moment in VegasVille, sadly, as a tribute to a fun production and an equally entertaining hockey team.

• An organization to keep an eye on: Onyx Theater in the Commercial Center. A popular local theater operation for a decade, Onyx has been the subject of unverified reports — most of them rooted on Facebook — that the theater is closing and planning a move. Some shows, including “The Fantasticks,” have been taken off the schedule while owner Randy Lange mulls programming at the theater. I am sensing some change in the offing, soon, at Onyx.

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