Zero Dark Laughter

Late-night comedy show resurrects the dirty jokes of Vegas past

img6979.jpgThe late-night lounge show is the stuff of Vegas legend and, sadly, is mostly confined there. Let’s all be honest: It’s highly unlikely Zombie Buddy Hackett is going to set up shop after midnight on Saturdays anymore. First off, he’d be entirely confused about what happened to the Sahara.

But local comic Gabe Lopez and national powerhouse Ralphie May have returned a slice of Vegas arcana to the arena with The Dirty at 12:30 show on Friday nights at South Point’s Grandview Lounge.

It’s a free show that’s signed for a 10-week run, the fifth edition of which is June 21.

“After a show, the former [South Point] entertainment director Damian Costa was talking about old-school Vegas, and how there used to be a dirty comedy show that all the acts would come in and do,” May says. “They’d sit around and drink and crack jokes and have fun with the audience. That’s what we wanted to do.”

May headlined the first show, when more than 500 people came out to catch him, after he’d already had a regular headlining performance in the showroom.

Lopez, the former Los Angeles-based comic who relocated here six years ago, came up through the ranks with May’s wife, Lahna Turner. He became May’s opening act before the pair turned their attention to the late show.

If anything, he says, the show finally gives the after-work theater crowd something to do.

“There’s no late-night thing for the industry,” Lopez says. “Not bartenders and servers, but for Cirque du Soleil dancers and the performance industry, where they don’t have to go to a nightclub and spend $500 for a bottle of cheap vodka.”

May and Lopez split booking duties, drawing talent from L.A., Chicago and New York. California’s Jeff Garcia is slated to headline June 21, while May name-checks Joey Diaz and Ari Shaffir as others he’s working to bring in. Lopez also hopes to lure Charlie Murphy, whom he opened for, in the future.

Ultimately, Lopez says the room would be the ideal spot in Vegas to work on new bits, not unlike when Dave Chappelle comes by the Laugh Factory in L.A. to work out routines. “We’re hoping this is where if Ron White is going over to The Mirage, he comes here to practice his new stuff,” he says. “We want it to be a major headliner workout room.”

It’s part of a comedy groundswell at South Point, particularly for May, who appears regularly in the showroom there, and taped a special in the space over Memorial Day weekend. The show is being shopped to Comedy Central, Showtime and Starz.

In particular, May says he was drawn to the new lighting setup in the showroom. “I’m getting lighting I can’t afford, for free. I get a great audience that’s from everywhere in America, and I get a hell of a great, professional environment. It was too good to resist.”

May says he’ll be back for a show or two before the end of the 10-week run July 26, but hasn’t formally picked out dates. They’re in discussions with South Point to carry the show over for an extended run, though negotiations haven’t finalized.

The Dirty at 12:30

Grandview Lounge at South Point, 12:30-2 a.m. Friday nights through July 26, free, 797-8299.

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