‘Donald Trump’: Two words you won’t hear from Rita Rudner at MPAC, July 22

Rita Rudner
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He Said, She Said, this Monday’s standup comedy show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, may be remarkable for what you won’t hear onstage from Rita Rudner and Louie Anderson.

Don’t worry about four-letter words  Or any five-letter ones, either. (As in T-R-U-M-P.) Political satire is not on the menu in Morristown.

“Never! I don’t want to do anything that divides people. I want to do things that unite people…and Louie is exactly the same way,” says Rudner, who spent a decade as a Broadway dancer before finding comic stardom in the 1980s with her wry takes on romance, delivered on Late Night with David Letterman and the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Rudner insists she has nothing against raunchy comedy. What she does have is something most of today’s down-and-dirty, in-your-face comedians don’t have: A 17-year-old daughter.

“So I’m very careful to try to be the role model that I want my child to grow up to be,” Rudner says.

“Quite frankly, I’ve always been more comfortable with PG humor. And so is Louie. So I think we’re a really, really good pairing… If you paired me with Andrew Dice Clay, it’s not going to work,” she says, even though she and Clay are friends.

Rudner and Anderson, a three-time Emmy winner and best-selling author, met as performers on a Rodney Dangerfield special 33 years ago.

Anderson’s credits include the FX comedy series Baskets, the game show Family Feud, and films Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Coming to America. The 66-year-old comedian’s books include Dear Dad – Letters From An Adult Child and The F Word, How To Survive Your Family.

Rudner, who honed her style by studying Woody Allen and Jack Benny, has authored five books of her own and is working on an autobiography, My Life in Dog Years. “Working” may best describe the Miami native, who at 65 has no intention of taking it easy.

“I like to do something different every year,” says Rudner, who set standup records with a 14-year run in Vegas.

She has sold out Carnegie Hall, her favorite gig. She has headlined in comedy specials on PBS, HBO, Comedy Central, the BBC and Amazon Prime. She’s written movies (Peter’s Friends) and plays (Tickled Pink) with her British husband, Martin Bergman.

Rita Rudner

Their newest collaboration, Two’s a Crowd, is about to premiere Off-Broadway. Rudner stars as one half of an odd couple stuck in a Vegas hotel room during a sold-out weekend. “It’s kind of a Neil Simon comedy, with music,” Rudner says.

The secret of her professional success with Bergman, she says, is trust.

“There’s not a lot of ego involved. Basically, we work for the audience. The audience is our boss. If the audience is laughing, we leave it in. If the audience doesn’t like it, we take it out,” Rudner explains.

The family act doesn’t stop there. Rudner’s wardrobe mistress is daughter Molly, “because I’d like to keep an eye on her.”

So far, Molly’s aspirations lean towards singing and songwriting. Rudner’s advice:

“It’s not easy, and no one asks you to be in show business. You have to fight your way in. No one comes up and says ‘Hello, would you like to be in the theater? Would you like to be a comedian?’ You’ve really got to get down and grind it out.”

Rudner’s material has evolved from the dating wars to challenges of a 30-year marriage, and parenthood. Molly has requested only one change to her mom’s act.

“Once I had a joke that I wrote when she was little about we were in the car, and she was in the back seat. And she said, ‘I’m bigger now. Put me in the front seat.'”

The Mayo Performing Arts Center presents Louie Anderson and Rita Rudner in He Said, She Said, on Monday, July 22, 2019, at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $49-$70. At 100 South St., 973-539-8008.

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