Voted "Best Comedian in Las Vegas" and "Favorite Female Las Vegan" in a town known for its raunchy punch lines, funny-mom Rita Rudner is famous for her demure wardrobe and lady-like sense of humor.
Rudner appeared often on HBO, "Late Night With Letterman" and "The Tonight Show," and toured her live comedy act across the United States, England and Australia before planting roots in Las Vegas 10 years ago. She and her husband, Martin Bergman, adopted a daughter, Molly, in 2002.
Mom by day and award-winning comedienne by night, Rudner has no trouble reconciling her two roles. "I go to work at night. I come home, and then I get up in the morning, walk the dog and take our daughter to school," Rudner said. "I made a Frankenstein jar with the class for Halloween, and we're doing gingerbread houses on Monday. It's a lot of fun."
Her family is a huge source of inspiration for her act. "I have a very funny husband, a funny daughter, a funny dog and now a funny hamster, two funny frogs and a funny snail," said Rudner. "Everybody's funny."
Rudner's jokes all stem from her own life experiences, because, as she puts it, "That's it! That's all I've got! I have to use my life or else I have no act."
Her material may come from everyday life, but her humor is far from banal. Rudner puts her own hilarious twist on everything she sees.
"I think every stand-up comedian's act is different because it comes from who they are," Rudner explained. "No one has had my experiences. And in the same breath that I say no one has had my experiences, everyone has had my experiences, because I try to relate to things that men and women do, and marriage and families, and holidays and traditions, but I see them from a unique point of view."
Rudner was 25 years old before she discovered her funny side. She spent her late teens and early 20s dancing in Broadway shows, including the original productions of "Follies" and "Mack & Mabel." When asked why she made the switch to stand-up comedy, she said, "It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was. You don't get better after 25, you get worse as a dancer. And I said, well, maybe I should do something that has a little bit more longevity than jumping and kicking and turning, and it was a good idea! I don't want to be jumping and kicking and turning right now."
Breaking into the stand-up business as a woman in the late '70s took guts and determination. "When I was breaking in it wasn't an accepted career for women," said Rudner.
"There were only two women I knew of who were doing it, Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, and there were hundreds of men. It was a tricky thing to become a female headliner, and I think it's still more difficult for women to progress in the industry than men."
Now in her 50s, Rudner is enjoying the rewards of her hard work.
"What other job where I go to work at 7 at night and I come home at 10:30? That's a great job! And people laugh all the time and everyone's nice to me. Everyone's happy!"
She and her family are especially excited to visit Maui this month. "We can't wait to come!" Rudner said. "We stayed in Hawaii about a year and a half ago at the Kahala and we swam with the dolphins. The only thing Molly says when people ask her where she wants to live when she grows up is Hawaii. We can't wait to get there!"
"Nutcracker Sweets": Maui Academy of Performing Arts' production of "Nutcracker Sweets," which ran for two performances only last weekend, was a visual delight. The younger dancers were adorable as party girls, wind-up dolls, angels and candy canes, and the more advanced ballerinas were stunning in the lead female roles. Guest artist Derek Sakakura gave a masterful performance as the Cavalier and the Snow King. A highlight of the show was costume designer Kathleen Schulz's exquisite confections of satin, lace, and tulle. The show was an absolute treat!
"The Fantasticks": ProArts is proud to present "The Fantasticks," the longest running musical in history. This wonderful parable tells the story of a young man and the girl next door, their scheming parents, romance, disillusionment and the realities of love. Directed by Doug Kendrick, the show features some of Maui's most talented performers, including Robert Wills, Leighanna Locke and Tom Althouse. With book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, "The Fantasticks" includes such great tunes as "Try to Remember," "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "I Can See It, " and "They Were You."
* "The Fantasticks" opens Friday and performs weekends at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays (except Dec. 12) through Dec. 19, and Jan. 7 through 16 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei.Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and younger. This Saturday is kamaaina night: all reserved seats are just $15 with Hawaii I.D. Call 463-6520 for tickets.
"Mark Twain Tonight!": Emmy Award-winning television and movie actor Hal Holbrook has been channeling Mark Twain for 56 years and every performance of this one-man show is different. Twain spent several weeks on Maui in 1866 and actually climbed to Haleakala Crater. About the sunrise there he said, "It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always." Join Holbrook as America's greatest humorist in an evening of stories, jokes and words of wisdom, while supporting the Rotary Club of Maui.
* "Mark Twain Tonight!" shows at 5 p.m. Sunday at Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $30, $45, $60 and $150 for VIP, available as above.
"A Christmas Carol": Don't miss the final weekend of Maui Onstage's production of "A Christmas Carol." This classic story, revived and retold each Christmas season, follows the crotchety old Ebenezer Scrooge (Mark Collmer) on a journey through his past, present and future on a life-changing Christmas Eve. Charles Dickens crafted the story in 1841 to reinvigorate the focus on the Christmas traditions of generosity, communion, and good cheer. Adapted by Tom Frey and directed by Lehua Simon, the show features interludes of Christmas carols sung by a four-part a capella chorus and a talented cast of adults and kids.
* "A Christmas Carol" performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $18 and $16 for seniors and students. Call 242-6969 for tickets.