Domestic life comedy routine staple for Rita Rudner

Courtesy Gold Strike Casino
Rita Rudner traded in her dancing shoes for a career as a standup comedian, making a rare appearance in Tunica.

Courtesy Gold Strike Casino Rita Rudner traded in her dancing shoes for a career as a standup comedian, making a rare appearance in Tunica.

Comedian Rita Rudner will make a rare appearance outside of Las Vegas when she performs at the Gold Strike Casino's Millennium Theater (1010 Casino Center Drive, Tunica Resorts, Miss.) Saturday with actor/comic Brad Garrett of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame.

"I'm in Vegas now, and it's a little chilly here so the showgirls have changed into their flannel G-strings," zings Rudner, poking fun at the city where she has performed almost exclusively since 2001 after 20 years working her way up through the ranks alongside contemporaries like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno.

Since her arrival, Rudner has become one of Vegas' top entertainment draws, winning best comedian in a local newspaper poll for eight straight years. She is currently billed as the "longest-running, most-successful one-person comedy show in the history of Las Vegas."

"(Working here has) enabled me to have a regular life because Las Vegas is one of the few places where a performer can stay in one place and the audience travels," says Rudner of her and husband writer-director Martin Bergman's decision to settle down. "So I've been able to raise a child. She's 10 years old, and I hope I'm doing a good job."

Understandably, these days Rudner's domestic life forms the backbone of her routine, which is notable for its wry and subtle word play.

"I only talk about things that happened in my life," she says. "When you have a nightly show, then you can say topical things. But if I think of something topical today, it's not going to be topical anymore by the time I get to you. So I just do my life and my child and my husband and what happens in the world."

Comedy is actually Rudner's second showbiz career. Beginning when she was just 15 years old, the Miami native worked for a decade as a professional dancer, appearing in such Broadway productions as "Follies" and "Mack & Mabel." While starring in a production of "Annie" in the late '70s, Rudner began exploring the comedy clubs of New York City, sparking her shift into becoming a comic in her early 20s.

"People who knew me as a dancer don't understand why this happened or how this happened," she says of the unexpected turn. "They tell me I was never funny and that it shouldn't have happened. But it did, and I'm glad because I'd hate to be a dancer now. Everything hurts."

Putting down roots in Vegas has allowed Rudner to cultivate yet another career, as a writer. She has written five books, including the novels "Turning the Tables" and "Tickled Pink," which she and her husband recently turned into a play that had its debut earlier this year at the esteemed Laguna Playhouse. Rudner and Bergman have also collaborated on a radio play for the BBC and the films "Peter's Friends" and last year's "Thanks."

"I try lots of other things," says Rudner. "But standup is my first love because I feel like that's who I am."

Show time for Rita Rudner and Brad Garrett is 8 p.m. Tickets are $49.95 and $54.95 and are available at the gift shop, by phone at 888-747-7711, and through Ticketmaster. For information, visit goldstrike.com.

Also This Week

The sister-fronted rock band Heart performs Friday night at Harrah's Tunica Casino's Event Center (13615 Old Highway 61, Tunica Resorts, Miss.).

Led by siblings Ann (vocals) and Nancy (vocals and guitar) Wilson, the group first gained fame for Zeppelin-esque '70s hard rock hits like "Magic Man" and "Crazy For You" before heading in a more pop direction in the '80s with songs "These Dreams" "What About Love."

More than 20 years later, Heart is as busy as ever. Over the summer, the group released a career retrospective box set, Strange Euphoria, and last month put out its 14th studio album, Fanatic. Also earlier this year, the Wilson sisters published a joint autobiography, "Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll."

Singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin, best known for 1997's No. 1 "Sunny Came Home," opens.

Showtime in 9 p.m. Tickets are $40-$70 and are available at the box office and through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 800-745-3000 or visit harrahstunica.com.

The Mississippi rock band 3 Doors Down returns to Tunica Saturday for their annual The Better Life Foundation fundraiser concert at Horseshoe Casino's Bluesville (1021 Casino Center Drive, Tunica Resorts, Miss.)

This year's concert, which raises money for the band's children's charity, comes just days before the release of the band's new Greatest Hits package. The show is also the unofficial kickoff to the band's upcoming U.S. tour with Daughtry, who are also slated to perform.

The show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 and $200; available at the box office the day of the show and in advance through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 800-946-4946 or visit horseshoetunica.com.

Before the concert is the motorcycle fundraiser "Ride For A Cause." Includes a reception at Tunica Roadhouse Casino and raffle for a Citizen Soldier V 2012 Bourget Pan-head Chopper. Registration forms and information at dixiethunderrun.com.

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