Comedian Whitney Cummings helped roast doyenne of laughs Joan Rivers on Comedy Central, saying Rivers was so old that Cummings didn’t know if she “should be telling jokes or calling out bingo numbers.”
Cummings’ tribute was only fitting because Rivers helped break into what was once a man’s world on the standup comedy circuit. Cummings is one of a current crop of comics (think Sarah Silverman, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler) taking full advantage of the new landscape, using raw language to tackle hilariously taboo subjects once avoided by female comedians.
Cummings makes her Lake Tahoe debut tonight at the MontBleu. It’s taken her some time to find center stage, starting out on the TV show “Punk’d,” moving to “Chelsea Lately,” and finally getting her own sitcom “Whitney,” which had two seasons on NBC before being canceled.
The MontBleu lists her show as “mature-audience-only.” (8 p.m.; $56.50, $68.25; montbleuresort.com)
There’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and, of course, “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
Any Gladys Knight set list should feature those classics. However, those who have seen Knight perform live know she also is electric when performing hits by others.
When Knight appears at Thunder Valley in Lincoln tonight in “The Family Reunion Show,” there are bound to be such moments. She’s been known to sing “Memories,” “God Bless the Child,” “Stormy Weather” and “Come Sunday.” Her slow buildup on “I Will Survive” puts the lyrics out front, making the disco anthem as touching as it is affirming.
It’s been a couple of decades since Knight topped the charts, particularly since her years with the Pips, but she’s never gone away. The last couple of years have been full of movies (Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”), television (the entire cast sang to her on “30 Rock”), new ventures (competing in “Dancing with the Stars” and ironically being eliminated during Motown Week), and charities (she’s a big supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America).
Knight, who long ago established her credentials as a powerhouse live entertainer, is reunited on this tour with the O’Jays. In the early days, both struggled to be accepted in casino showrooms, selling far below Wayne Newton levels, but the world has caught up. Now they sell out. (7 p.m.; $47.50, $57.80; thundervalleyresort.com)
Thunder Valley’s other attraction this weekend is Bill Engvall, a comedian who, like his one-time stage mates Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, has managed to extend his career beyond the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” era. Engvall likes to say “You dance with the one who brung you” and standup was what “brung” him into the spotlight in the first place. He’ll stick with that Saturday. (8 p.m.; $36.80, $47.30, $57.80, $71.40)