Dr. Robert Hartley, Dick Loudon, Major Major, Papa Elf, Judson the librarian, Professor Proton, even Ducky’s mentor – they all arrive at Harrah’s Tahoe this Saturday in the presence of the original button-down mind, Bob Newhart.
His comedy has outlived that of the vast majority of his contemporaries, and the Proton character on “The Big Bang Theory” has brought him added prominence in the past decade. At the time, he’d already been at it for fifty years.
One of the most consistent and durable men in show business, particularly stand-up comedy, Newhart developed his style when he was working as a copywriter.
He entertained himself with long phone calls with a friend during which they made up silly scenarios. Those, of course, became his trademark, as his comedy albums, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart” (1960) and its sequels hit the tops of the charts and multitudes could quote them from beginning to end. (The original is still Number 20 on all-time best-selling comedy albums.)
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Newhart helped advise a man on how to get King Kong off the Empire State Building, tried to persuade Abraham Lincoln to change his image, and became an air traffic controller guiding a Piper Cub to LAX.
His dry delivery reminiscent at the time of the great George Gobel, and extended routines like those of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, have become iconic; and his characters from his own television shows and appearances on others (check out his classic man-returning-a-toupee on “The Dean Martin Show”) have endured.
Bob Newhart has often nowadays warns audiences not to start reciting his routines with him because he’s changed a word or two, but there’s plenty in his act that will be new. He’s been continually refreshing his material since he first appeared in the Northern Nevada casino showrooms in the mid-1960s when he played the Fun Room atop of the now-defunct famous Harolds Club. (7:30 p.m.; $65.50; Ticketmaster)
Lots going on this Memorial Day weekend:
Billy Ray Cyrus “achy breakys” a few hearts at the Atlantis in Reno tonight (8 p.m.; $55-$75; atlantiscasino.com).
The Fifth Annual Chaw’se Day Celebration is Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grinding Rock State Historic Park sponsored by the Miwuk Tribe and Jackson Rancheria.
There will be Native American games, cuisine, dances, crafts and guided tours of the park which the tribe has spent the past four years renovating. (14881 Grove Volcano Road, Pine Grove; jacksoncasino.com)
Reno’s Grand Sierra has two shows this weekend, commencing with Third Eye Blind (“Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper”) tonight (9 p.m.; $39-$41; grandsierraresort.com); and a comedy duo of Tom Arnold of “Roseanne” and “True Lies” with Steve Hytner who played Kenny Bania on “Seinfeld.” They’ll bring along Camilla Cleese, daughter of John Cleese, on Saturday (8 p.m.; $30-$60).
Also on the docket:
Femmes of Rock and Roll with Bella Electric Strings play at the MontBleu Saturday (8 p.m.; $25; Ticketmaster),
The Nugget in Sparks is launching a new event with its three-day Cuisine, Corks, and Crafts Festival with vendors, cooking demonstrations, farm-to-table presentations and three celebrity chef presentations by Lara Ritchie, Clint Jolly, and Michael Demers (Free; schedule and details at nuggetcasinoresort.com)
Filipino love singers James Reed and Nadine Luster play Cache Creek tonight and Saturday (8 p.m.; $55-$125)