“When I meet a man, I ask myself, ‘Is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?’” ~ Rita Rudner
By Vanessa Wolf
There are several measures of success for a stand-up comedian: sold out tours, HBO specials, or your own TV series. Rita Rudner, one of America’s most enduring comics, topped all that by having an auditorium built solely for her to perform in on the Las Vegas Strip.
This Saturday, she will be performing at the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC.
Originally from Miami, Rudner moved to New York City to become a dancer, eventually appearing in the original cast of Follies.
After a few years, she realized a career as a dancer was likely to be short-lived, so she started to study the great comedians of the day – notably Woody Allen and Jack Benny – and was soon putting an act together.
In a 2011 interview with The Jewish Chronicles, Rudner elaborated, “I decided that I wouldn’t be able to dance for the rest of my life but I would probably still be able to talk. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest dancer at this point. There weren’t so many female comedians then so I thought it wouldn’t be so crowded – that I would have a bit more elbow room, and I was right. It was a good idea. I tell my daughter, do something that not everybody wants to do or that not everyone can do. If you’re in an orchestra, be the bassoonist – there won’t be so much competition.”
Rudner’s routine is largely observational, mostly about relationships and family. Long known as the only “clean” comedian in Las Vegas, she takes her audience seriously.
“Every once in a while I say something in the wrong rhythm and they don’t laugh, I think: ‘Oh my gosh, I’d better pay more attention.’ It’s like tightrope walking – you have to keep your balance, you have to keep concentrated and you can’t phone it in because the audience will sense it. I have to visualize my jokes, live my jokes, feel the audience because every audience is different. It’s like having a different dancing partner every night.”
Rudner has appeared in several television shows in the US and the UK, recorded multiple award-winning comedy specials, and authored five books, including I Still Have It; I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It.
Discover why she’s stayed on the scene for almost 40 years now when she plays the MACC Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 or $65 for VIP.