THE BEST PERFORMERS in the world have worked Las Vegas. In the early days Vegas hotels and casinos were filled with music and comedy day and night. Each major hotel had a main showroom, a lounge, and a piano bar or two. The sounds of laughter and music were everywhere.
Today is a new day and everything is different, but for some reason, many of today's up-and-coming performers think Vegas on your résumé says you've made it.
Very talented people have made great money working showrooms, lounges, and piano bars in Vegas. Outside of a few people like Louis Prima, Don Rickles or Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, I can't think of many big stars that "made it" because of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has never been a place to make it. From the earliest days, Vegas wanted and needed performers that already made it; the "A" list acts. In 1969, even Elvis worried about filling the room at The International Hotel, now the Hilton, after not performing live for many years.
The 1940s '50s and '60s were cabaret decades, people dressed up for a big night out, and nowhere but the Las Vegas Strip could you see the biggest stars performing all in one place. There were two headliner shows a night, a dinner show $10, and later the cocktail show $8. After the cocktail show, the lounge acts continued until dawn. The lounge shows were great, here too; the "A" list performers, and all for the price of a $2 drink. Even the slot joints downtown had lounge acts, and the music would spill out to the sidewalks of Fremont Street. It was New Year's Eve, all the time, 24/7.
It's not like the old days, but the Boss said check out the afternoon show at The House of Blues in Mandalay Bay. It's called "Keep it Funny" a comedy & magic show starring Tim Gabrielson. Tim does 200 shows a year all over the country, working colleges, fairs and the corporate circuit. So, let's do to Vegas.
Tim's room at The House of Blues would be great for a small blues or jazz band, but not enough light for a Magician. There were tables and chairs, but no food or service, you get your own drink at the bar. Tim was full of energy, not so for the small audience dressed more for a swap meet, and they seemed exhausted, like they walked to the show in 115° heat.
Do you remember Dr. Laurence J. Peter and his 1968 book The Peter Principle? "People are promoted to a level of incompetence. They are still good at what they do, it's just the new position is different from the position in which they previously excelled, and requires different skills."
This is where The Peter Principle really kicks in. Tim's new position is different from the position in which he previously excelled, the county fair and corporate crowd. This is VEGAS Baby, we require a hip, fast-paced act. It becomes especially difficult for an afternoon show without any real marketing, in a room with poor lighting, and a small audience full of stiffs.
Mac King has been successful doing basically the same afternoon show over at Harrah's since 2000. Harrah's nursed and aggressively marketed Mac's show. Heck, for the first two years didn't Mac give a 2 for 1 coupon with every Jackpot?
The kids liked Tim's show, and maybe for families this could be the best place to get out of the heat, and away from the casino. I spoke to Tim for a while; his show will continue until December, he’s smart, he will improve and adapt to the Las Vegas scene. For a few bucks, go see Tim, a nice guy and very determined to make it in Las Vegas. If he does it at The House of Blues, he can make it anywhere, for sure.
Tim Gabrielson at 3:00 p.m. every afternoon except Fridays.
House of Blues box office 702.632.7600
Tickets are $19.95 plus taxes.
Shows are suitable for all ages.