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Friday, October 19, 2012

Irreverent Dangerfield Raps Appreciative Crowd

From the Vault Dept.: Back in my reviewing heyday I covered just about everything, which was particularly nice when that “everything” included events like a Rodney Dangerfield gig. Which also brings back a fond recollection of Latham’s doomed Coliseum, later Starlite, Theater. Of the heckler comebacks referenced below, one I remember went like this. Audience Lout: “Hey, Rodney! How big is your rod?” Dangerfield: “I don’t know. Ask your sister!” I borrowed the original headline from this piece, pausing only to correct the headline writer’s irreverant spelling of “irreverent.” Such was the charm of the doomed Knickerbocker News.


IT WASN’T A TRAFFIC JAM of Bruce Springsteen proportions, but the crowd pushing onto Route 9R for Rodney Dangerfield’s late show at the Coliseum Saturday was a sizeable one.

“Yeah, so I’m here in Latham again. Big deal,” the comedian declared when he came onstage after a screening of his video, “Rappin’ Rodney.” He shook his shoulder, adjusted his tie, and was off for an hour-long diatribe on all of his favorite subjects. He worked the audience like a pro, and they loved him.

Dangerfield is shameless. He gets away with wife jokes even Henny Youngman wouldn’t use, but pulls it off as part of his “I get no respect” shtick. The catch phrase – “no respect” – was shouted out more often by the yahoos in the audience than by Dangerfield himself.

He complained about his family, his dog, traveling, and performing, with particular scrutiny paid to the sexual and scatological implications of each subject. He fended off the back-row shouters with a general quip – “I tell ya, in Latham tonight they’re all saying ‘Hey, let’s get wacked and go yell at Rodney,” – and specific comebacks, the likes of which you don’t hear on Johnny Carson.

There’s a hobbledehoy charm to his insults. They’re the challenging taunts of a dirty-mouthed kid from Queens, the sort of things we all wish we could come out with, and that’s probably why he’s so popular. And so funny. Someone once attributed Bing Crosby’s success to his ability to sing the way you think you sound in the shower. Dangerfield does earthy routines with the kind of rampaging wit and silliness we think we ourselves can achieve, and makes it look easy.

A young Canadian impressionist named Maurice La Marsh opened the show, facing a crowd which wanted nothing less than the headliner. La Marsh has considerable skill and soon sold himself with a clever “story-of-my-life” format which allowed for a lot of Saturday morning cartoon imitations, which hit a receptive mark. He’s someone to watch.

– Albany Knickerbocker News, September 25, 1984

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