The Chubby White Guy Rides Again: A Review of Absinthe
Attended on August 7th
For the 2nd time in my Vegas life, I was pulled on stage to participate in a Vegas show. At this point, I’m calling myself a featured Vegas performer. This time, I was in the show “Absinthe,” which shows in the large tent outside of Caesars Palace. Before I regale you all with the details of my performance allow me to tell you a little bit of how great this show was (and not just because I was featured).
My wife and I debated which show we wanted to attend. I’ve wanted to see Terry Fator for a few years now but I read such good reviews of “Absinthe” that I had to see it not to mention that the gorgeous Angel Porrino was also in the cast…or should I say, my cast, and I loved her in Peep Show and was looking forward to peeping her again. We bought tickets from Tix 4 Tonight for $90 a piece (34 percent off…always buy from T4T unless you can find a better deal). We got the VIP tickets and sat in the 3rd row. Everything about the show experience was cool. The door for our entrance was a green telephone booth; the place is decorated like an old-school circus tent with antique looking sofas in the back, high top tables around the perimeter, wooden chairs around the “theatre in the round” stage and the ushers wearing porkpie hats and suspenders.
Absinthe is a Spiegelworld production which features a combination of burlesque acts, acrobatics, feats of strength, cabaret singers and raunchy comedy. The premise of Absinthe is that the Master of Ceremonies, known as the Gazzillionaire, is putting on this large variety show. He cracks jokes at the expense of audience members, his cast and even himself. He and his assistant, Penny Pibbetts, introduce the acts with their especially raunchy and off-color humor. This IS NOT a show for kids. In fact, this isn’t a show for some adults and if you’re a right-wing Republican, I’d caution you as much of the political humor is often directed at the conservative GOP.
Regardless of where you sit in the house, you are incredibly close to the very small and round stage located at the center of the tent. As the New York Times reviewed, “You’re close enough to see the sweat and grimaces needed to produce graceful, gravity defying stunts.” While the Cirque Du Soleil shows have higher production values, the proximity to the stage, the intimacy of the venue and the value of the tickets don’t compare. That isn’t to say that “Absinthe” is the best show in Vegas but, I feel strongly that Absinthe is the perfect Vegas show. We laughed as heartily as we did at Carrot Top but not quite as hard as we did at Jerry Seinfeld. We watched in awe at the feats of strength performed by two Polish men, the speed and daring of a roller skating couple whirling around a tiny stage relying on physics and gravity to prevent them from propelling into the audience, high wire acts, trapeze artists, the lovely singer Melody Sweets and, of course, the Peep Show diva and local celebrity, Angel Porrino who bounced inside a large bubble. Every moment of the 90 minute show was entertaining. Of course, I believe that my segment was the most entertaining.
Prior to the last act as they were setting up the high wire act, the Gazzillionaire surveyed the audience and saw me “raising the roof” from my seat. He called on me to join him on stage. I nearly trampled the women sitting next to me to get to the stage as I feared that he may change his mind. My moment had come again! While I was featured in Mystere’, I did so from my seat and never actually made it to the stage. This time, I would be center stage in Vegas. I was bigger than Wayne Newton (literally), funnier than Carrot Top (introspectively) and more dazzling than Penn and Teller combined (with my New Balance sneakers and plaid shirt). The Gazzillionaire introduced me to the audience as “the white guy” who had taken a break from “world of war craft” to watch the show. He cracked jokes about my New Balance, my plaid shirt and my huskiness. He may have called me a whale.
(The Gazzillionaire, Asian woman, myself and the handsome black man.)
He then asked a “handsome black man” to join me on stage. He continued to joke by pointing out our obvious differences and told us we were going to compete. Finally, he turned back to the audience and invited a pretty Asian woman to join us. He sat her in front of us and said, “Ok, now you’re going to do their nails.” After continuing to play on our ethnic, racial and physical differences which included referring to the “handsome black man’s ‘huge penis ‘”and the Asian woman’s math abilities, he finally told us our task. The “handsome black man” and “the dorky, chubby white guy” were going to compete in a lap dance competition. MY TIME HAD COME! I was ready to rock this. He immediately told the “handsome black man” that if he lost to me his “black card” would be revoked. The Gazzillionaire asked me to step off the stage and wait for my music. I quickly thought of several scenarios and routines I could do. I was looking to see if a stripper pole had dropped to the stage, which it hadn’t. I thought about ripping my shirt off Hulk Hogan style but thought that would be too shocking. My mind raced and two images would not leave my mind. The first was that of Kevin James, as Doug, on “The King of Queens” dancing for Carrie during an episode in which he purchases stripper lessons for Carrie and discovers she is terrible. In the end, Doug dances his heart out for Carrie in what might be the funniest “King of Queens” scene ever. The 2nd was something that my wife had said to me a few days prior. At the end of an episode of “How I Met Your Mother,” one of the Bro Code rules was “A Bro never dances with his hands over his head.” And for some reason, that’s all I could think of doing. As “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” hit, I grooved myself onto the stage, hands in the air. I circled this poor woman like a shark, gyrating and waving my posterior around. The crowd cheered me on as I circled to around to her lap right, hopped over her legs, straddled her, shook my groove than and pretended to take my shirt off. The crowd roared. I had a chance, I thought. I took my bow and stood to the side of the stage as the “handsome black man” danced to Montel Jordan’s “This is How We Do It.” He was good but I…I was a god amongst men. I think if the crowd chose the winner, I would have hands down been the chosen one but the Gazzillionaire asked the Asian woman to grab the crotch of the winner. Sadly, my crotch was not touched and I walked off the stage happy but chubby white guy loser.
The rest of the show was fantastic and so many members of the audience congratulated me including a senior citizen who said, “I thought you were a wonderful dancer.” I thanked her but really wanted to say, “we all know I’m a fabulous dancer.” (Vince Vaughn, “The Wedding Crashers) As we exited the theatre, I received countless accolades from my new fans. As my good friend Ben McNamee said via twitter, “that’s just another Wednesday night in the life of Sal Vegas.”
Needless to say, I highly recommend the show.