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The Reel Thing, Ba-by
by Bobbie Katz

It could be said that comedienne Rita Rudner is sitting on top of the “whirled.” Onstage and off, she is truly on a roll, as of late. Having recently celebrated her one-year anniversary at New York-New York, it’s a safe bet that she will have her finger on the comedic button there for some time to come — she has signed a new three-year contract with the property, extending her show though 2004. As if that wasn’t enough of a testimony to her Las Vegas success, with the hotel’s introduction of its exclusive Rita Rudner slot machines, Rudner has the chance to put her own unique spin on things. And it all just has her simply “Tickled Pink.”

In fact, in keeping with her feminine ways, the bank of three-reel spinning custom female slot machines, “Tickled Pink” (also the name of her most recent book) and “Tickled American,” features Rudner’s signature pink color and origi-nal images of lipstick containers and nail polish. “It’s really bizarre,” Rudner says. “I was telling my husband, Martin, that when you’re a little kid and you go to school and the teacher asks you what you want to be, you go, ‘I want to be president’ or ‘I want to be a doctor’ or ‘I want to be a lawyer.’ No one says ‘I’d like to be a slot machine.’ I knew I’d be either a slot or a slut. I’m glad I chose the slot. I like the fact that I have such a silly life.”

Rudner is also looking forward to having people put their money where her mouth is — her idea is to be the first sup-portive talking slot machine. “When people don’t win, I want to say things like, ‘it’s not your fault.’ Or if they win, I’d like to say something like, ‘you deserve that, you work hard.’ I want to be a very enlightened slot machine. They are working on the technology now.”

Obviously all of this will lead to Rudner’s becoming “Tickled Green,” which just happens to be the new book she is writing about life in Las Vegas. Actually the comedienne has been more prolific than ever writing new material for her show on a daily basis. Currently performing seven nights a week due to ticket demand, Rudner finds that the relaxation of being in one place every night affords her the opportunity to be very creative. Every evening, right before going on stage, she sits down with her notebook for half an hour or 45 minutes and checks off the material she wants to debut. She usually tries about three new things a night, ultimately adding about two or three new jokes to the show every week and subtract-ing older material.

Rudner, who wrote for the Academy Awards both this year and last, calls her comedy an integration of punch lines, absurdist humor, and observational comedy. She says she never wants to say everything one way because comedy is keeping people off balance. While people can bring their teenager or parents to her show because she uses no curse words in her act, she also attracts a lot of couples because one of her focuses is on relationship humor. The other is on commonality of experience.

“I’m always on the lookout,” she notes. “When someone pulls on a door that says ‘Push,’ I know there’s something there — I’ve done it a million times!”

This story was first published in the October - November 2002 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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