Old School Comedy

Comedy is back at the Edgewater’s Edge Lounge on a regular basis and that means a variety of comedians will be performing every weekend.
Doors open (6:30 p.m.), with the show starting (7 p.m.). Tickets are $15 plus tax. There is a $2 discount on Sunday shows for US veterans with ID. For tickets and information, see Casino Services, next to the promotions booth, or call 702-298-2453 or 800-677-4837, or go to Edgewater-Casino.com.
This weekend, Friday-Sunday, March 16-18, sees the return of headliner Billy Ray Bauer, with Chris Porter as the opening act.
Bauer has been a repeat performer here at the Edgewater for a few years now, and he’s also a repeat guest on the Bob and Tom Show and the Dick Purtan radio show in Detroit.
He has co-hosted the Appliance Doctor radio program on WXYT for years. His jokes have appeared in Reader’s Digest, with one becoming one of the magazine’s top 50 jokes for 2005.
He has been performing stand-up comedy across America for the last 30 years. From headlining at comedy clubs to performing for large corporations, he has established himself as a tried and true funny guy.
From his skewed descriptions of growing up in Detroit in the ’60s, to the gory details of raising four boys in the new millennium, Bauer might just leave you exhausted from his ordeal and exhausted from laughing. Add some off-the-wall impressions and dialects, and you only have an idea of an evening spent with the guy.
He was named best local comedian of the year by Hour Detroit magazine for 2017.
He’s also appeared with Drew Carey, Tim Allen, The Smothers Brothers, Lewis Black, Doug Stanhope and more.
His career in comedy wasn’t exactly something he planned. It began at the urging of his friends.
“My buddies were always bugging me about doing stand-up. They said, ‘we’ve been to comedy shows and you always make us laugh more than they do,'” he told the Laughlin entertainer. “So I went into a comedy club, did an open mic and I was hooked. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, so I didn’t tell anybody — in case I chickened out.
“I didn’t even tell my wife. I packed up my stuff like I was going to the gym and I told her I was going to work out. When I came home, I was excited and I said, ‘Honey, I have a confession, I didn’t go to the gym.’ Her jaw dropped because she thought I was out messing around. Then I told her I went to a comedy club for an open-mic night and this slow smile came across her face. She said, ‘I was waiting for this.'”
“My thinking was, I was getting in a little late in the game — that I was too old for this,” he added. “Some comedians figure it out in their early 20s, but in my case, life got in the way. I have four sons, which was a good entry point for me as a comedian. It was trickier for me, but I’m glad I made the decision.”
It also turned out to be good advice for himself, and his kids.
“I keep telling my sons, ‘find something you’re passionate about — you don’t want to be tied to a job you hate because life is too short.’
“I’m doing something I truly love to do and I get paid for that. What could be better?” he adds.
George Carlin was his biggest influence.
“I saw him in his prime in 1974. He was great,” Bauer said. “I also admire Jerry Seinfeld — and especially Rodney Dangerfield because of his career track. He didn’t get widely known until he was 50 years old. He was a hero to me. Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Richard Pryor — there’s greatness in their material if you go back and listen to all that old stuff. That’s how you realize that good stuff today couldn’t have been done without them. There are so many approaches to it.”
Bauer’s style humor comes from his everyday life.
“It’s a combination of observations and a few impressions. I’m an old-school comic, meaning there’s some variety within the context of my material.
“I like a smaller venue. The intimacy in a show changes the dynamic. I’ve done shows with a big, big crowd and it’s a different kind of show — the rhythm of the show changes. In a smaller venue, the show moves along more quickly and it’s a lot more personalized.”
With the good of the job, there’s also the not-so-good.
“I love the travel. I get to go to so many places I’d never get to go,” Bauer said. “The uncertainty of dealing with the business side — the booking agents, the people who control your destiny. They base their decisions on things you have no control over.
“One of the big problems is comedy has become a niche market where comics cater to a specific set of parameters. Like DEF comedy specifically catering to the black market. I think this is a step in the wrong direction. Comedy can be black, white, male, female, heterosexual or homosexual —but it’s become compartmentalized.
“Also, when you watch comedy on TV you come away with the notion that it’s not so much a belly laugh as comedy borne out of embarrassment or unfavorable situations.
“It’s not like the traditional straight line-punch line format when we all knew when to laugh because we knew where the humor was coming from.”
So who makes Bauer laugh his butt off these days?
“I think Jim Gaffigan is fantastic, also I’m a big fan of Russell Peters, a Canadian comic. I also like Lewis Black.”


COMEDY ON THE EDGE

The Edge Lounge at the Edgewater

Friday-Sunday, March 16-18 (7 p.m., doors open 6:30 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for tickets