Rita Rudner enjoying doing exactly what she wants

“Some things work out perfectly,” says comedian Rita Rudner upon answering the phone from her home in Laguna Beach for an interview to promote her shows this weekend at Feinstein’s at the Nikko.

“I get to go out and be civilized,” noting the intimacy of the room — which also noticeably has no backstage — which she played last year.

She adds, “I love San Francisco, I used to come all the time,” mentioning a one-night stand at “the one with red seats,” the Great American Music Hall, she thinks, in 1888.

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago, but the veteran comic did take a 12-year break from touring, playing Las Vegas only, including six years at Harrah’s, as well as runs at the MGM Grand and The Venetian.

“It’s one place where a comedian can have a normal life,” she says, describing how she could take her daughter to school, be part of the suburban culture, then put on a gown and perform.

Celine Dion, she says, copied her and gave her no credit or percentage. The one difference, Rudner comments: “I drove a car home, she drove a helicopter.”

Still, times have changed in Sin City. When Rudner started, she was a spring chicken next to Siegfried & Roy and Wayne Newton.

“I moved in at the right time and was lucky to have done that,” she says, contrasting her experience to today’s nightclub scene, where “They’re selling a bottle of vodka you can get at Costco for $12 for $500” and headliners are Marshmello and Deadmaus: “It’s not really a town for performers anymore.”

But Rudner, who won’t cite comedic influences (“no, I don’t watch anybody!” she says) has changed her act over the years, in sync with how her life has progressed. In addition to doing her classic setup-punchline jokes, today she’s also working on more lengthy monologues, and other projects, including a hit play called “Act 3.”

The author of five books (including two novels, which “were hell” to write), Rudner currently is having fun working on her autobiography: “I hope to get it done by the time I’m 65,” she says, mentioning, “I’m 63, but to a dyslexic, I’m 36.”

It likely will include things that aren’t well-known about her, including a “tragic” childhood, having a sick mother (which made her introspective, compared to being “outrospective” today; her work as a professional dancer (Bob Fosse immediately cut her at a “Pippin” audition); and how her priorities have changed from career to family (including the story of how she and her husband, producer Martin Bergman, adopted their daughter Molly, who will be 15 in June).

Rudner also is enjoying a kind of freedom that comes with age: “You get to do what you want to when you’re over 60,” she says, adding, “I do shows I like to do in places that are fun … anywhere I get a plane with a direct flight.”

IF YOU GO

Rita Rudner

Where: Feinstein’s at the Nikko, 222 Mason St., S.F.

When:
7 p.m. April 28, 8 p.m. April 29

Tickets: $40 to $60

Contact:
(866) 663-1063, www.ticketfly.com

Leslie Katz
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Leslie Katz

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