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Bruceback August 23, 1991| Vilanch bathes his humor in nostalgia

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Vilanch bathes his humor in nostalgia
Chicago Sun-Times
August 23, 1991 | Ernest Tucker

Bette MidlerBruce Vilanch

Perhaps the best commentary on the Hollywood whirl that is part of humorist Bruce Vilanch’s life is this: The day after he appears at a suburban comedy club, he’ll fly back to Tinselville to learn whether he won an Emmy. What for?

Writing for another awards show, the Oscars.

“Some day, they’ll have an awards show just for awards shows,” said the 43-year-old former Chicagoan.

And while that may seem odd to outsiders, it is more for Vilanch’s comedy dicer. The sit-down comic, who will appear with a pianist, does a monologue that he describes as “like Spalding Gray, only funny.”

His act will have a mix of tributes to Hollywood legends such as Sophie Tucker, stories about his newspapering days on the defunct Chicago Today, and some parody songs.

“It’s bathed in nostalgia,” Vilanch said.

The self-described “nice Jewish boy from New Jersey” had ties with the stylish stars of yesterday. Such a bond caused him to link up with the then-little-known torch singer Bette Midler. Eventually, after touring with her troupe and writing for television variety shows, he was given a chance to write for a Manhattan Transfer TV series.

“It was a little daunting to move here,” he said from his Los Angeles home.

But things fell his way. Eventually, he wrote for everyone from Billy Crystal to Shirley MacLaine, and took turns as an actor and songwriter. His writing already has earned him six Emmy Awards.

Not all of his assignments make him glow. There is the burden of scripting the so-called American Comedy Awards.

“They’re the one awards show which has the mandate to be funny,” while, at the same time, having no real legitimacy. Therefore, many fringe comics are featured because bigger names have no interest.

When not writing or doing his vaudevillesque turns in Los Angeles and New York, Vilanch performs benefits – so many, in fact, that he calls himself “Benefits R Us.”

Vilanch will appear at 8:30 and 10:30 tonight and 7, 9 and 11:15 p.m. tomorrow at Zanies Mount Prospect, 2200 S. Elmhurst Rd. (708-228-6166). Cover is $12 plus a $5 food or beverage minimum.

TUCK’S YUCKS: Gilbert Gottfried, the squinting, screaming funnyman, will make a rare visit (after several cancellations) to headline at K.J. Riddle’s Comedy Stop, 15750 S. Harlem, Orland Park. Shows are 8 and 10:30 tonight and tomorrow night. Cover is $15 plus two drinks (708-614-6336).

And returning once again to his hometown is Anthony Griffin. He will perform at 7, 9 and 11:15 tonight and tomorrow night and 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Zanies downtown, 1548 N. Wells (312-337-4027). Cover is $12 plus two drinks.

BruceBacks: Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus – October 28, 1987

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Celebrities join world’s greatest circus acts for NBC-TV special Nov. 27. (Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus)
Article from:PR Newswire Article date:October 28, 1987


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/—Mickey Mouse, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Lisa Bonet, Tony Randall, Kim Fields, Tim Conway and Jim “Earnest” Varney will join the world’s best circus acts and 500 clowns, lions and elephants for the “Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus” Nov. 27 from 8-9 p.m. EST on NBC-TV.

Setting for the circus will be the 10 international pavilions of Epcot Center World Showcase.

Highlights of the show:

Mickey Mouse, with help from the Nock Family, hangs by his heels from a trapeze suspended from a helicopter hovering over the World Showcase Lagoon.

From Canada’s “Cirque de Soleil,” clown/comedian Denis Lacombe performs his mad-conductor routine which dazzled audiences at this fall’s Los Angeles International Festival.

Another act from the “Cirque de Soleil” in Quebec, The Andrews, perform their derring-do aerial review. The pair, who are English, are considered to be the best in the world.

The Berousek Bears from Czechoslovakia do handstands on wires and display amazing agility with an incredible foot-juggling routine. They have toured with every Iron Curtain state circus including the renowned Moscow Circus.

Trapeze artist Mark Lotz works without a net while performing his extremely dangerous routine which includes a barefoot heel hang. A South African who now lives in France, Lotz recently received a gold medal at the Circus of Tomorrow Festival in Paris.

The Winn Troupe, presented circus’ highest honor, the Gold Clown Award, in 1987 by the Price of Monaco, thrill viewers with their “wheel of destiny” and “sky cycle” acts. Presently, they are performing these acts daily in the “Epcot Center Daredevil Circus.”

Anthony Gatto, a 13-year-old American, performs his incredible juggling routine which has earned him numerous awards since he was five.

From Switzerland, trainer Roby Gasser brings the only act of its kind: A comedic sea lion with a seal for a straight man.

For a touch of insanity, the BMX Riders, two acrobatic teenagers, perform bicycle tricks on half-moon ramps.

Writers for the show are Bruce Vilanch, who writes for Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin, and Tom Perew, who has written for “Saturday Night Live.”

The show is produced and directed by Marty Pasetta.

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