Casino File: Steve Martin & Martin Short yuk it up at Borgata; Caesars AC’s show biz plans; Bally’s new saloon
When we look back at the year in entertainment in Atlantic City, Chris Rock’s two shows Saturday night at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa will likely go down as the most memorable gig of 2022 thanks to it taking place just six days after the now-infamous Academy Awards ceremony. But on a purely show-business level, that accolade could wind up belonging to last Saturday’s Borgata performance by comedy masters Steve Martin and Martin Short.
To be sure, their turn was, with minimal deviation, a clone of their marvelous 2019 Big B program. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t wildly entertaining.
The show began with an extended video presentation showcasing the pair’s individual (and occasionally collaborative) achievements, from Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guys” shtick from Saturday Night Live, his appearances in such hit flicks as Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and his 1970s novelty hit single, “King Tut” to Short’s “Jimimy Glick” character and his memorable turn as the wedding planner in Father Of the Bride whose title character, of course, was played by Martin. It served as a reminder of just how formidable their careers have been.
The show continued with the appearance on stage of Martin, who served up a series of insults directed at his absent partner that were very funny, but clearly delivered with true affection. For instance, he described Short as “one of the great over-actors.”
After a few minutes of this, Short appeared and offered a salvo of putdowns of his own (Martin, he sniped, “looks like Anderson Cooper frozen to death on New Year’s Eve”).
What followed was an old-school, variety-type show that ably framed the pair’s individual and collective talents, including their mastery of sketch comedy and almost-supernatural comic timing, Short’s impressive skills as a celebrity mimic and Martin’s virtuoso banjo playing (which he showed off with the help of his long-time band of backing musicians collectively known as the Steep Canyon Rangers). Add a heaping helping of unabashed silliness (e.g. Short’s goofball “human bagpipe” bit) and the evening was nothing short of magical.
Not that there weren’t missteps: The Three Amigos segment with a trio of men from the audience was more hokey than funny, and Short’s otherwise hilarious “Stepbrother to Jesus” sequence referenced his father’s alcoholism; it didn’t quite fit the show’s upbeat tenor and was kind of a (temporary) downer.
But that didn’t keep the presentation from being a most memorable undertaking and a needed, if all-too-brief, respite from the endlessly depressing events ceaselessly unspooling in the real world.
Caesars to up its show biz game
Wonderful news from Caesars Atlantic City:
According to Joe Lodise, the midtown gaming hall’s vice-president and general manager, a 400-seat theater is expected to open next year in an area that is currently part of the casino’s Wild Wild West area (which the property kept when it sold next-door neighbor Bally’s Atlantic City a few years ago).
More great news: The room will host a permanent, original production that is being created by the folks at Spiegelworld, the group behind the riotously funny Absinthe, the very-R-rated revue that has been tickling funny bones at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas since 2006.
The construction of the as-yet unnamed facility is but one piece of the ongoing, $400 million upgrading at Casears as well as its sister AyCee operations, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City. Sources tell us that the largest share of that $400 mil has been earmarked for Caesars.
Lodise also told us recently that he hopes to double the number of headliner presentations in the Circus Maximus theater from about 20 shows a year to around 40.
Bally’s spins a new look
Speaking of property upgrades, Bally’s will use the Memorial Day weekend to debut another piece of its ongoing, nine-figure rehab of the 42-year-old casino-hotel. That’s when the Carousel Bar will open for business.
Located adjacent to the revamped hotel lobby and casino floor, the one-of-a-kind watering hole is so named because the bar will rotate 360 degrees, making between two and two-and-a-half revolutions per hour. Inspired by Atlantic City history, the Carousel will feature specialty cocktails based on such AyCee culinary icons as salt water taffy, cotton candy and caramel.