By Arlene Appelrouth | firstname.lastname@example.org
World-class Jewish comedian Rita Rudner is performing at the Punchline in Buckhead on Wednesday and Thursday, July 27 and July 28.
The pretty, funny lady usually can be found in places such as Harrah’s in Las Vegas that can pack as many as 2,000 people into the auditorium. Why would she choose a much smaller venue like the Punchline?
“I’ve performed everywhere before,” the 62-year-old said in a telephone interview. “Everywhere except Syria.”
Rudner wanted a smaller audience so she could assess the effectiveness of her new material by looking her audience in the eyes. “It’s more personal in a small auditorium. More relaxing for me. Besides, I was in Atlanta a few times, and I liked it.”
Rudner had a 12-year run at various casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, giving her the longest-running solo comedy show ever in Sin City. She has written books, had televised comedy specials, and made lots of late-night appearances with the likes of Johnny Carson and David Letterman.
But she wasn’t always funny, and she didn’t always aspire to being a comedian. She said she grew up a shy, smart girl in Miami. The daughter of a doctor, she graduated from high school at 15.
Her dream was to become a Broadway dancer, so she headed to New York right after high school.
She made her dream come true and danced in musicals.
By the time the Broadway dancer was 25, she was well aware of the amount of competition among dancers. She wanted success, and she decided that because there weren’t so many female comics, she had a better chance if she went into comedy.
Rudner studied the performances of Jack Benny and Woody Allen and developed her own epigrammatic style.
Her material consists of what she encounters in her daily life and pokes fun at the way she was raised.
“I talk about technology, love, relationships. Everything,” Rudner said. “My material is about everything that’s going on. But not politics. People don’t have to think what I think.”
If you go to the Punchline for one of her two shows, you’ll hear her talk about the ordinary activities that make up her day.
“I get up, take my daughter to school, do that ellip — elliptical,” she said after a pause to remember the name of the exercise machine she has. “Then I walk the dog, swim and make dinner.”
Rudner’s jokes spring from her daily life. People like her style, which is neither raunchy nor political.
She said being a mother — she has an adopted 14-year-old daughter — is a big part of her life, and she has provided the opportunity for her daughter to appear onstage.
“Mollie is a singer-songwriter,” Rudner said, “and she loves it when I talk about her.”
Mollie actually opens for her.
“She’s really a good kid,” Rudner said.
Some children of comedians, especially teenagers, might be embarrassed if their mother went onstage and made fun of them. But not Rita Rudner’s daughter.
“The first time she heard my act, she said, ‘Mom, talk more about me.’ ”
What did she hope the AJT would write about her before her Atlanta shows? “Write whatever you feel like writing,” Rudner said. “I never read anything anyone writes about me.”
Who: Rita Rudner
Where: The Punchline, 3652 Roswell Road, Buckhead
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, and Thursday, July 28
Tickets: $30; www.punchline.com/shows.asp or 404-252-5233