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DVD Review: Rita Rudner – Live from Las Vegas

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Soft-spoken Rita Rudner moved to New York City at age 15 to become a "gypsy", a Broadway dancer. At fifty-something she has kept her ballerina’s figure. Poised upon a Las Vegas stage, Ms. Rudner’s trademark breathy, halting delivery seems to delight the audience before her. Her material is mostly one-liners and setups in the old, Henny Youngman/Catskills mode. The content mostly concerns aging, relationships, and married life — something the mostly coupled-up, middle-aged crowd appreciates, if doubled-over laughter and joyful expressions are an indication.

Rudner’s type of delivery isn’t my favorite; I favor hard-edged truth-tellers like Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, or Paul Mooney, to be honest. Still, if anyone can make people laugh while arabesquing over the surface, she can. Her bubbly personality and champagne-colored gown fit the light-hearted delivery and gently witty topics as perfectly as the amazing star-like chandeliers fit the decor. As such, Rudner and Vegas in Rita Rudner: Live from Las Vegas seem a perfect fit, and a perfect hour of light entertainment.

I admire Ms. Rudner for her ability to make people laugh out loud while never going near a curse word, or raunch of any type. That is a feat in itself, not easy, and harder and harder to find these days. So, this DVD would be safe to watch with the whole family, from grandma to the kids, although I’m not sure the kids would understand the “go get some sun, dear” punchline, and I’m not sure grandma would appreciate the Chippendales segment on the DVD extras menu. (Although, she might. I did!)

Speaking of the DVD extras, it’s a strange mashup of various things Vegas. We are treated to a super-creepy ‘ventriloquist wedding’ in which every guest and member of the wedding has their own ventriloquist dummy in hand and talking. If you’ve seen the film Magic and it gave you nightmares, that segment is not for you. Thankfully, the Vegas Chippendales segment gave a nice balance to that and some much-needed mental bleach. Thank you, Ms. Rudner. We also get to see Rita go shopping for a consignment gown (which had a puzzling air of a paid advertisment) and a very funny segment in which a beach-blond hottie is given a "make-under". We see a Pam Anderson lookalike end up looking like, well, most of us. Ha. Well done, Rita. The extras list is very long, with a handy "play all" option. (I love the "play all" option.)

Ms. Rudner is multi-talented, from book author to producer to actress (Peter’s Friends). Adopting an infant five years ago, she now adds mother to her list of accomplishments, and child-rearing jokes are included in this set — again, something her audience can identify with, and their loud laughter affirms this. Her famous one-liner, “I love being married… it’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” is heard, as well. Now that’s a line I’d like to hear as part of the standard vows, replacing “Love is gentle, love is kind”. It’s so much more appropriate.

Rita Rudner: Live from Las Vegas is out now on DVD from Image Entertainment.

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