BUDDY HACKETT TRIBUTE: MORE THAN LAUGHS
Blame it on my youth, but there's always been a soft spot in my heart for those young Catskill comedians back in the late 1940s polishing up their jokes just as television was about to become a national medium.
One of them was Buddy Hackett, a roly-poly Brooklyn boy who broke in on the borscht belt but found his biggest fame in America’s living rooms as a TV favorite before color came to the living room screen.
Visiting Tucson to take audiences on a journey through Buddy’s life is son Sandy Hackett in his evolving tribute “My Buddy” -- directed by Sandy’s wife Lisa Dawn Miller – now beginning a touring life the couple hopes will find “My Buddy” evolving to Broadway.
Invisible Theatre is presenting “My Buddy” with performances at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd., at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 9. The show is being advertised for mature audiences.
“I started out with five hours of material about my father” said Sandy, on the phone from Nevada. “So I whittled it down to three hours. The rest I’ll put in a book.”
You could hear his smile through the phone. “But the last time we performed, the time was two hours and 15 minutes.”
“It’s a full theatrical performance,” added Lisa Dawn. “It’s not just a comedy act, not just a story of Buddy’s life.
“It’s a father and son story, really. Sandy toured with his father for 10 years. A lot of what they shared is in this show.”
“He was my father and my best friend,” said Sandy. “All the stuff we cut out of the show that will be in the book, that’s also coming out soon.”
During Buddy’s career of 60-plus years, he appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show more than any other comedian. Buddy also had starring roles in movies such as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and several Disney classics.
Count on hearing stories about Buddy’s relationships with such famous colleagues and contemporaries as George Burns, Jerry Lewis, Phyllis Diller and Milton Berle.
After the premier performances of “My Buddy” last January in Florida’s West Palm Beach, there was more massaging to prepare for the Tucson tour dates. Then it will be on to Las Vegas a few days later for more shows.
Sandy Hackett is the recipient of this year’s Goldie Klein Guest Artist Award presented annually by Invisible Theatre. The award was established in 1988 to honor Goldie Klein, mother of Susan Claassen, IT’s longtime artistic director. Past recipients include Lynn Redgrave, Steve Ross and Rain Pryor.
Tickets are $35 for the March 8 show at 8 p.m. and March 9 at 3 p.m. A happy hour nosh with Sandy Hackett on March 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Shlomo & Vito’s New York Delicatessen & Pizza Kitchen, 2870 E. Skyline Drive, is $50 ($30 tax deductible; reservations are limited). For more information, call 882-9721 or visit www.invisibletheatre.com or www.mybuddyhackett.com.