They should hand out painkillers at the door of this one.
Flashing back to the original Pawn Shop Live! at the Golden Nugget in February, I labeled it “an amateurish misfire of major proportions.” Updating to the rewritten Pawn Shop Live! at the Riviera, I amend that to “an amateurish misfire of TITANIC proportions.”
Rumor has it another revamp is pending. Stop, guys. … STOP. Have mercy on us. And yourselves. In your lingo: Let’s not rewrite it up.
When this intended spoof/valentine to History Channel hit Pawn Stars debuted Downtown, it was juvenile, screechy and sloppy. Crank up the amperage on those defects and voila!—the Strip version. Judging by a recent performance of this afternoon mess, at which a dozen ticket-buyers bailed out mid-show, shrinking an already sparse crowd of around 50 puzzled patrons at the Starlite Theatre, the stratagem is one big whoopsie.
Nothing has changed in the setup. Parodying the crew at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop—owner Rick Harrison; dad “Old Man” Harrison; Rick’s son, Corey, a.k.a. “Big Hoss”; and Corey’s pal, Chumlee—it give us Slick (Sean Critchfield), Old Fart (a half-body-sized puppet operated by Troy Tinker, replacing the departed, and fortunate, Enoch Augustus Scott as numerous characters), Lil’ Boss (Gus Langley) and Chump (Garret Grant).
Don’t blame the cast—the Saturday Night Live crew couldn’t squeeze a half-hearted giggle out of this pablum, either. Rather than toss out useless chunks of the original show that tell a snoozy family history, it merely reshuffles them. Interaction with shop customers—the bartering that lends the TV show its juice—still gets short shrift. When it does pop up, another multiple role-player, Anita Bean, slogs through braying imitations of celebrity visitors Phyllis Diller (whom most younger showgoers don’t recognize) and Criss Angel (whom any tourist who hasn’t seen Angel’s show likely wouldn’t know). And a video segment on how to be a “Vegas balla” is so pointless that its inclusion in a show that makes no sense makes a kind of perverse sense after all.
Jokes still insult the sophistication of a 13-year-old, hanging in the awkward silence of a perplexed audience. Casting a major role with an oversize puppet manipulated by an actor in plain view is still a gimmick—sorry, “theatrical device”—that exacerbates the witlessness. (When it—i.e., Tinker—croaked out “God Bless the USA,” I considered moving to Bosnia.) Actors race around like headless chickens, performing as if their only direction is, punch-it-punch-it-PUNCH-IT-HARDER.
That isn’t polishing a show. That’s ramming it down our throats, daring us to spit it back up—which the dozen walkouts did, as I would have if I weren’t paid to swallow it.
What to do with Pawn Shop Live! now? Do the words “Jack Kevorkian” suggest a solution?
Enduring this production again, my mind forced to wander for relief, I recalled my long-ago job as an overnight security guard at a medical-science morgue, obligated to watch stiffs.
Perhaps my career hasn’t progressed as much as I’d thought.
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.