ATLANTIC CITY — Thirty years ago, after yet another night of hoofing it on a Broadway stage, Rita Rudner went searching for the path of least resistance for a successful career as an entertainer.
The road, she quickly discovered, wasn’t paved with gold. It was lined with laughs.
So then and there, Rudner — a classically trained dancer who left home at 15 determined to make it on the Great White Way — began channeling her energies into comedy.
Never mind that she was never the class clown, wasn’t naturally funny and didn’t have a clue how to write or construct a joke, let alone tell one. Rudner realized there were probably more opportunities for a woman in comedy than there were for women dancers.
Up to that point, Rudner, who was 25, had always managed to find steady work as a “gypsy,” just another anonymous chorus dancer who moves from one show to the next. She performed in national tours of popular musicals and landed chorus spots in a variety of Broadway shows, including the original companies of Follies and Mack and Mabel.
“I thought maybe I’d try [comedy] because it wasn’t such a crowded field [for women],” she recalls.
She began hanging out in New York comedy clubs after completing her dance chores each night.
“I became obsessed [with comedy],” she adds. ”What is a joke? What makes people laugh? What’s the persona? How do you develop a routine?”
Rudner, who plays her first gig in Borgata’s Music Box on Saturday, Nov. 5, remembers the first time she got up on a comedy club stage. A shy and introverted person by nature, Rudner convinced Richard Walker, a colleague from the Broadway musical Annie in which they were performing, to do a musical comedy set with her in a club.
Their “act” consisted of singing songs and stopping during each number to trade jokes. After their set ended, Rudner lost her partner.
“Richard said it was the worst experience of my life, I never want to do it again,” Rudner remembers during an early morning phone call from her Las Vegas home. “I said I kinda liked it, and I’m doing it next week.”
It’s not that comedian Kathleen Madigan isn’t grateful for the gig when she christens the new Showroom at the Golden Nugget on Saturday.
BILLY GARDELL’S THE STAR OF a hit sitcom, he just released a new DVD of his standup material, his latest slate of live gigs has been selling out wherever he goes — things are looking up for him so much, Gardell’s almost over the loss of his beloved Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Almost.
'I was at a [New York] Knicks game recently and saw a guy use a new T-shirt gun at that game. He was shooting about 20 shirts in the crowd in five seconds. It was crazy. Some celebrities are for stricter gun control laws. I’m for looser T-shirt gun control laws. I would love to drive around the city and just shoot T-shirts into the streets and see what people would do.'
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