A Tribute to Red Skelton at the Westin

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As far back as we can remember, right up through high school, Tuesday evening meant watching The Red Skelton Show. Our father loved Red’s sense of humor, with dim-witted country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper eliciting the biggest laughs from him.

In our younger years we preferred the cross-eyed seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliffe, but later on Freddie the Freeloader, the hobo clown, moved to the top of our list.

Last week we had a chance to reminisce a bit about Dad and Red when we attended Brian Hoffman’s show – Remembering Red, A Tribute to Red Skelton – at The Westin on Flamingo Road just off the Strip.

Hoffman, who actually looks a bit like the great comedian, has mastered Skelton’s mannerisms and the voices of his characters. He spends 90 minutes doing some of Red’s old routines, including the silly, corny jokes, and gives the audience a chance to see a few of those crazy characters again.

And, true to Skelton’s own philosophy, the show is G-rated. There wasn’t a single “four-letter word” uttered; it is totally safe for the children or grandchildren. Clean comedy meant a lot to America’s Favorite Clown.

We also enjoyed the showroom at The Westin, which seats only about 70 people in comfortable, roomy upholstered chairs. It brings the show up close and personal. And, a very affable Hoffman, who usually stands at the showroom door to welcome attendees, makes himself available after the show for photos, chit chat and reminiscing.

Showtime is 2 p.m., Saturday through Tuesday, and the price is just $34.95 ($39.95 if you want an autographed picture). Children under 12 are free. Plus there is a 2-for-1 special for locals with valid ID. And, making it an even greater bargain, there is a 20% discount at the Suede Restaurant when you present your ticket receipt to the waiter.

Suede is located next to the showroom and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is not huge, but the food and service are both excellent.

A BIT OF HISTORY: If your Las Vegas roots go back more than 10 years, you will remember that The Westin was once the Maxim Hotel and Casino. Opened in 1977, it billed itself as “the new toast of the town,” and relied on its attention to detail and personal service to overcome its small size (about 800 rooms).

The philosophy worked for a while, but when the mega resorts started popping up, beginning with The Mirage in 1989, things started going downhill for the Maxim. The late 90s brought bankruptcy, foreclosure and sale into the picture.

Then Columbia Sussex Corp. bought the property in 2002 for $38 million, completed a $42 million renovation and secured a Westin franchise for the hotel.

But the current recession that began in 2008 took a heavy toll, and by the end of 2010 things were grim for the off-Strip property. In 2011 the court appointed Pyramid Hotel Group as the receiver. They then leased the property to 777 Gaming for four years beginning in May 2012.

And, as a recent visitor, we can say it looks good. Everything we saw was immaculately clean (especially the bathrooms, which women always pay attention to) and well cared for. There were no frayed edges to be found.

It’s small, cozy and a pleasant change if you are looking for a respite from the flashy, party theme Vegas does so well.

See you around town.

Eileen DiRocco is the owner and publisher of GamingToday, the bible for gaming news “you can bet on.” Contact Eileen at [email protected].

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