Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Oct. LV Backstage Talk Column

by Michele LaFong

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk’s syndicated monthly column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today-Oct.

Finalist on Last Comic Standing Lachlan Patterson on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong (10 min. edited)

Oct. LVBST column
When Randy Bachman, founding member of The Guess Who, the Canadian band responsible for such hits as “No Time” and “American Woman” left to explore his personal musical horizons, he joined forces with Fred Turner to create Bachman-Turner Overdrive and rock & roll history was made. I, along with millions of other fans worldwide, grew up and sang along to radio hits such as “Taking Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride,” and “Roll On Down The Line.” So when I heard that after 20 years of fan demand these two giants of hard driving tunes were reuniting, touring, and appearing at The Cannery August 30, billed as Bachman & Turner, I knew I had to get an interview, which I finally landed with Fred Turner. You can imagine my shock when backstage, before their concert Fred casually dropped the bombshell scoop to yours truly that this was his very last show with Bachman. “I am retiring and have lots of other unfinished business to take care of…I’m just taking care of unfinished business, you might say…loose ends to tie up. I’ve got a bucket list with lots of things I need to do.” When asked how Randy Bachman took the news, he responded “Randy’s got so many things going on all the time with so many artists, and new projects, he’s just fine! …Maybe I’ll be back in a few years…you never know.” While watching the concert I was kind of sad but felt blessed to be witnessing the last historic show of Bachman & Turner. They never announced the news to the crowd and I haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Another thing that has come to an abrupt end is the celebrity impersonating “dealertainers” that the Imperial Palace, now The Quad soon to be the Linq was so famous for. It seems this was not a popular decision with many of their loyal customers. Also, the Clarion Resort on Convention Center Drive formally Royal Americana, Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Paddlewheel, and Greek Isles has closed for good. It’s been an interesting quaint little property that opened as the Royal Inn in 1970. Debbie Reynolds gave me my first running show there, “Vegas Live” starring Michele LaFong.
It is with a heavy heart that I am addressing the untimely passing of Comedy Icon Joan Rivers who at age 81 seemed ageless, and invincible. I was asked to join WTTG-TV (FOX 5) Washington via Skype to share some of my personal interactions with Joan when guesting on her afternoon talk show back in the 80’s and speak on the impact that she had on comedy in general. Like so many other stories being shared by industry over the weeks about Joan’s generosity, graciousness, and wonderful sense of humor, I experienced much of the same. Joan’s approach to comedy was fearless and unapologetic- breaking ground and paving the way for other female comics. Ironically she hated being referred to as a pioneer or a trail blazer because her work was not even close to being done. In fact, in a recent interview before her passing she was quoted as saying “I hate when female comics come up to me and say “Oh you broke barriers for women… I’m still breaking barriers….” Sadly her work was unfinished but her legend lives on and she is sorely missed.
Another feminine comedy ground-breaker of sorts is New Jersey native “Queen of Comedy” Sommore, who began her career as the first woman to host BET’s ”Comic View,” and then later hosting Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam” and “Showtime at the Apollo.” She was the 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year, and in 2000 she entered “The Guinness Book of World Records,” performing for an audience of more than 50,000 people in Atlanta as part of the “Queens of Comedy” tour. A recording of the show became the longest-running and highest-rated special in the history of Showtime Networks.
I recently interviewed Sommore, who was promoting her upcoming weekend at Suncoast Hotel & Casino on Labor Day Weekend. With credits which include her status as being among the top-grossing stand-up comediennes in the United States and abroad, as well as Oprah Winfrey proclaiming her “a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium,” it’s of no wonder that Sommore sold out both nights at the 500 seat theatre before the weekend even began with Suncoast having to turn away hundreds of fans. Her show equally as impressive had substance and she drew a drinking, spending well-dressed crowd. I think it was obvious just from her credits that Queen of Comedy Sommore deserved to be performing in a much bigger theatre on The Strip. I’m sure Las Vegas won’t make that mistake again as word gets out fast!
Another impressive comedienne making a difference in comedy is Wanda Sykes. Wanda is Executive Producer of NBC’s Last Comic Standing which got renewed for a second season. I recently interviewed runner-up Lachlan Patterson, and Winner Rod Man who were promoting their upcoming Last Comic Standing Tour with all 5 finalists in the show. The audio of their interviews are archived on our site. I will be doing a backstage videotaped interview with both Lachlan, and Rod Man in between their sold out shows at Aliante Casino. An edited portion will be posted on gamingtoday.com, casinocenter.com.
Bill Maher returns to the Palms on Oct. 10 & 11. He always puts on a solid, funny, relevant show, and is one of my favorite return guests on LVBST. Bill’s interview will air on Oct. 9.
My Picks:
Wanda Sykes, Treasure Island, Oct 3, The Beach Boys, The Cannery, Oct. 4, Lewis Black, The Mirage, Oct. 4, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, Oct. 10 & 11, Legends of Motown: the Four Tops, Temptations, Spinners, Cannery, Oct. 10 & 11, Loni Love, Venetian, Oct. 10 & 11,
The Eagles, MGM Grand, Oct. 11, Queensryche, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 11, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, Mandalay Bay, Asia, Red Rock Resort, Oct. 17, John Fogerty, Palms, Oct. 17, Ray Romano and David Spade, Mirage, Oct. 17 & 18, Zac Brown Band, MGM Grand, Oct. 17, Carlos Mencia, Treasure Island, Oct. 17, Smokey Robinson, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 18, Ron White, Mirage, Oct. 24 & 25, Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, Oct. 24, Wendy Williams, Venetian, Oct. 31.

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Susie Essman, Lachlan Patterson

Sept. 4, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM KLAV in LV & The Web

 Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

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Susie Essman guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Susie Essman has played the sassy Susie Greene for all eight seasons of the critically-acclaimed HBO comedy series, Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Los Angeles Times calls Susie, “The most lyrical purveyor of profanity on television.” She has appeared in her own half-hour HBO comedy special, made numerous appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The View, and Crank Yankers.
Susie Essman is appearing at the Sands Showroom at The Venetian as part of the Lipshtick series: Saturday, Sept. 6: 7:30pm

For more about Susie go to www.susieessman.com
Lachlan Patterson

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Recently Lachlan was on NBC’s hit competition show “Last Comic Standing”. Patterson’s signature style moved him through to the finals and was announced the runner up. While on the show he received high praises from this season’s celebrity judges Keenan Wayans, Russell Peters, and Roseanne Barr.  “So funny. So great. Your writing is fantastic and your delivery is one of a kind. I think you could take this whole show” says LCS judge Rosanne Barr. Even Russell Peters mentioned he’d love to go on tour with Lachlan.
This hilarious stand out comedian other television appearances include “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” “Tosh.O.,” the FX comedy “Legit” and VH1’s “Sexiest Artists.”

Lachlan will be appearing at The Aliante Casino on Sept. 13, at 8pm, & 10:30pm in Last Comic Standing with winner Rodman.

For more go to Lachlanpatterson.com

 

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April Las Vegas Backstage Talk column by Michele LaFong

April Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today.

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Remembering David Brenner

It doesn’t get much than better listening to show-biz stories from David Brenner and Shecky Green in a Las Vegas coffee shop.  It wasn’t that long ago I was doing just that.  I was shocked when I heard that David Brenner lost his battle with cancer at age 78. II was fortunate enough to have interviewed him when he was promoting his last engagement at The Suncoast Showroom.  In that interview Brenner talked about how his father taught him to always leave the audience laughing.  And he did…even till the very end.  I reran that interview on March 20, in David’s memory.  The audio is archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

After interviewing countless comedians and singers on LVBST for almost three years and following up to watch their shows, I started to realize that artists and audiences often have very different agendas. Audiences always want to be entertained and look forward to hearing their favorite bits or hits of the artist that they pay to go see…and artists want to entertain but also want to grow and continue to evolve, develop and explore.  With the double-edged sword of name recognition and fame come expectations from fans of what that artist often perceives as keeping them stuck in the past, and pigeon-holed.  Finding that perfect balance of “old” and “new” is the answer to satisfying both the audience and artist whether a comedian, or singer.  Tom Jones is a perfect example of someone who has mastered not only combining old with new, but also in re-inventing his band and updating his bluesy arrangements, keeping his material fresh yet in-step with his brand which also keeps him relevant.  A crowd-pleaser like Tony Orlando, who is known for opening his show with his biggest hits right off the bat then following up with everything from Led Zeppelin, to The Beatles, always delivers a feel-good contemporary show, is always “on,” and has that special connection with his loyal audience which explains his lasting popularity and sell-out performances. Bill Maher, and Jerry Seinfeld are examples of comedians that are committed to keeping their material updated, presentation smooth, and take pride in the quality of their shows without sacrificing laughs.  Paula Poundstone, Chuck Negron, Mickey Gilley, Marty Allen, Rich Little, Gallagher, Gary Puckett, Carlos Mencia, and Judy Tenuta are all examples of artists that not only embrace their audience but also include a Meet & Greet following every show.  Another performer that is very pro-audience and eager to please was Burton Cummings, former lead singer for The Guess Who.  Cummings sang hit after hit when headlining at The Orleans in January, and received several standing ovations throughout.  He even allowed flash photography during his performance and went as far as inviting fans to videotape the show!  However not all artists are even close to being as giving and grateful on and off stage, committed to taking the audience up as high as they can.  70’s Pop Star Helen Reddy had a packed house.  Before the show began at The Orleans Theatre, I over-heard audience members anticipating which hit Reddy might open with.  But no one called it right!  She didn’t sing any hits until forty minutes into the show.  Although her voice sounded as good ever, the fans that came out expecting to hear her many, many hits were clearly out of luck, as I counted three hits in total including the iconic and mandatory “I am Woman.” Oh…And of course, no pictures, nor autographs for anyone with no exceptions, and certainly no backstage passes!  I can’t say I was that surprised because when I interviewed Reddy a couple of weeks prior to the show, and asked her why she had quit the business and stopped singing for over ten years, her reply was “I was bored.  I was tired of singing the same songs over and over again.”  I asked why she decided to return, her reply was “I was at my older sister’s 80th birthday party, and she asked me to do her a favor and sing a duet with her …and you don’t turn down your big sister…so I sang… got a huge standing ovation, and I heard my voice coming out of the monitor and thought “gee, that’s not so bad…maybe I should go out and do that again…and here I am.”  Before my interview, I asked her if she will be gambling while in Vegas?  Her reply? “I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I’m a celibate!” (Not exactly what I was expecting!) I immediately recalled a videotaped interview I did with Comedian Sal Richards in which I asked if there was a celebrity he worked with that wasn’t what he expected them to be.  His immediate reply was “yes Helen Reddy!” And the story he told about her was pretty outrageous and shocking!  It really shows what can go on behind the scenes in Show Business.  It is posted on casinocenter.com and promises not to disappoint!

Singing funnyman Michael Shane was such a hit at Bootlegger Bistro on Thursday nights that he is “back by popular demand” on every Friday & Saturday in April from 6:30PM on.  He will be taking your requests and is very difficult to stump!  The food is great, especially the pizza, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained.

My picks for April are Ray Romano/Kevin James, April 4 & 6, Mirage, Brian McKnight, April 5, Eastside Cannery, Rob Thomas, April 4, Palms, DL Hughley, Orleans, April 4 & 5, Palms,  Gary Lewis & The Playboys, April 4 & 5, Suncoast, Jeff Ross, April 5, Mirage, Olivia Newton-John, April 8- 12, Flamingo, Jason Alexander, April 11-May 4, Harrah’s, Wayne Brady, April 11, Mirage, Bryan Ferry, April 12, Palms, Jay Leno, April 12, Mirage, Foghat, April 12, Cannery, Las Vegas Soul Festival, April 12, UNLV, Megadeth and Motorhead, April 17, Palms, The Bronx Wanderers, April 18-20, South Point, Gabriel Iglesias, Mirage, April 18 & 19, Jim Belushi & Chicago Board of Comedy, April 18 & 19, Venetian, Robert Cray, April 18, Cannery, Restless Heart/Sawyer Brown, April 19, Eastside Cannery, Jeff Tracta, April 24, LVH, Tony Orlando, April 25-27, South Point, Bobby Rydell, April 25-27, Suncoast, Tracy Morgan, April 25, TI, Little River Band, April 26, Cannery, Temptations, April 26 & 27, Orleans, Rod Stewart, April 30-May 17, Caesars Palace

 

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Michael “Wheels” Parise, Robin Leach, Jack Walker, Jacob Lusk-LVBST w/Comedian Michele LaFong

Feb. 23, 2012  6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

Michael “Wheels” Parise, Columnist Robin Leach, Singer Jack Walker, Singer Jacob Lusk, all guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

23-year veteran comedian Michael Wheels Parise has been the national touring act for Andrew Dice Clay for over 23 years. Wheels has costarred with movies with Rodney Dangerfield, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Jada Pinckett Smith.
With over 70 TV appearances including Conan O Brien, Letterman as well as co-starring with Dice Clay in the 2008 Reality Show on VH-1 called “Dice Undisputed” Wheels Paris is making King’s Comedy Club his new home. When Wheels is not Headlining Las Vegas you can see him in all the major cities throughout out the country.

Wheels  was featured in LaFong’s Syndicated “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” Column in Gaming Today, and will soon be featured in Michele LaFong’s Syndicated “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” column in Casino Player Magazine, as well as “Getting Personal with the Stars” Syndicated Column in Gaming Today.  He is a popular guest on LVBST.

More on Michael Wheels Parise below:

http://wheelsparise.com
http://facebook.com/wheelslive
http://twitter.com/wheelslive
http://kingsroomlv.com
Wheels and Dice on VH-1 Reality Show called Dice Undisputed
Dear Chef Reality Sizzle.

Wheels Parise will be playing at King’s Comedy Club at the Rio features three of America`s brightest up and coming comedians whose roots span a variety of cultures. This show will create a virtual United Nations of Comedy

You can catch Wheels Parise at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas
King’s Room, indefinitly, 8:30pm nightly
For reservations

 

Celebrity – Robin Leach

Robin Leach guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong on 1230AM in Las Vegas and the web.

Television genius and icon Robin Leach brought the lives of celebrities into our homes with the hit show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and made a few billion of his own along the way.

Robin will be discussing about the Celebrity Bingo Bow Wow benefit.

Play bingo with local celebrities and support the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals! On Saturday, February 25th, at noon, the Silverton Casino is hosting the Bingo Bow Wow bingo tournament to support the lifesaving, no-kill work of Nevada SPCA. All animal lovers are welcome! Players must be 21 years of age to play bingo though. The event will be held inside the Veil Pavilion, with a celebrity Red Carpet beginning at noon and The Nevada SPCA Celebrity Bow Wow Bingo tournament beginning at 1pm. Win money and prizes! There will be performances by the women of Fantasy and the men of Thunder from Down Under! There will also be guest appearances by Racardo Laguna, “The Old Man” from Pawn Stars, Angel Porrino, Robin Leach, and many more! The first 100 guests to arrive will receive a free gift bag worth over $300! The tournament’s entry fee is $30 which includes one Blue Promo Paper Pack and a free dauber. Come out and have fun while helping the homeless pet population in Southern Nevada!

For more about Celebrity Bingo Bow Wow, click here.

You can catch Robin Leach and many other celebrities at Silverton Casino Hotel
Veil Pavilion
Saturday Feb. 25th at 1.p.m. with a red carpet at noon

 

Vocalist – Jack Walker

Jack Walker has appeared on BBC and Scottish TV and after making his home in Las Vegas He has graced some of Las Vegas’ biggest stages including Mandalay Bay, Venetian, Mystere Theater at T.I, & Mirage.

2012 is looking to be an exciting year for Jack. In partnership with Station Casinos Jack will perform his ‘Jack Walker & Friends’ Show each month at two of Station’s premier properties, Aliante Station Casino & Green Valley Ranch. Jack will perform in his own power packed style and will incorporate two Guest Artists each month to provide 5 star variety entertainment.

For more about Jack Walker, click here.

You can catch Jack Walker at Green Valley Ranch
Ovation Lounge
Sunday, Feb. 19 & Sunday, Mar. 4, 7:00 p.m.
For reservations

 

Singer – Jacob Lusk

Jacob Lusk has found much success after his run on the hit television series NBC’s “American Idol.” He has been working diligently with R. Kelly’s songwriters and is managed by Gladys Knight’s team. With such a talented backing, it is no wonder Lusk has found himself living the dream he set out on even before making his name known to the world on “American Idol.”

Recording artist and “American Idol” Season 10 finalist Jacob Lusk performs as a special guest at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch. Lusk is joining St. Paul’s Concert Choir with David Blakely on the Hammond B3 Organ, 15 vocalists and three musicians.

You can catch Jacob Lusk at The House of Blues Gospel Brunch Sunday,Feb. 26th
Music Hall at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For information
You can listen to a recording of our show below!

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