Rip Taylor has been a headliner in Las Vegas since the Civil War, or so it seems. He has had a long and very colorful career, and has put together an evening where he regales us with stories from his life, calling the show It Ain't All Confetti, a title that finds its roots in his act, which featured lots of confetti.
Mr. Taylor began by giving us a barrage of Vegas jokes in his usual manic style, highlighted by him literally flipping his wig. It was extremely funny and won me over. Sometimes he seemed too big for television (think Zero Mostel) but in the intimacy of the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood it was perfect.
Rip Taylor has long been associated with camp humor and over-the-top comedy. (Think Carrot Top). He tells us of a very difficult childhood of neglect and hardship, basing the stories on his bestselling autobiography, It Ain't All Confetti. His early years were in burlesque, strip joints, and eventually the Catskills. He is the master of the pun, bad jokes, crazy antics, and hysterical laughter. What we witness is a lost art that he so lovingly represents.
His act also touches out hearts as he tells of his rise from poverty and abuse to stardom. He eventually appeared on Broadway, in Sugar Babies, Oliver, Anything Goes, and Peter Pan (can you imagine his Hook?). He has also gone "legit" at times, as in Indecent Proposal and Alex and Emma. But he is best known for his stints on television as the host of The Gong Show and Chuck Barris' $1.98 Beauty Show, and made appearances on Password, The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, The Mike Douglas Show, and Late Night with David Letterman.
In Vegas he won Entertainer of the Year three years running. Now he shares with us some wonderful stories of his friends, like Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds, and even his ex-wife (who was sitting next to me laughing along with all of us). It Ain't All Confetti is a trip into nostalgia mixed with Taylor's still relevant wit. You can catch the show at the El Portal until June 6th.