Today's Video Link
Here's a story from yesterday's CBS Sunday Whatever program: A recollection of the great hotels of the Catskills and a look at a current off-Broadway show that is keeping some of their spirit alive. Thanks to Anthony Tollin and several others for letting me know about this…but Anthony was the first.
You'll see a comedian in there named Stewie Stone. If Stewie Stone doesn't hold some sort of longevity record for stand-up comedians, he will soon. He's been at this forever and he's still performing.
In 1978, I was the head writer on a Bobby Vinton special for CBS. The network flew me and two other writers back to meet with Bobby and see him perform at the Mill Run Playhouse in Niles, Illinois. His opening act was Stewie Stone…and Stewie had been doing it for years by then. He was one of those guys — and there have never been many of them — who expertly mastered the art of being an opening act: He kept the audience entertained for a solid twenty minutes and then finished his set right on time without having in any way upstaged the star to follow. That is only meant as a compliment.
Headliners who tour or play casinos now rarely have opening acts. In some cases, the headliner is on some sort of deal where the cost of the opening act will come out of his take so he figures, "Why spend that money?" In others, they've just found that the opening act doesn't matter insofar as ticket sales are concerned. The folks who might spend $250 a seat to see Rod Stewart are not going to say, "Hey, let's go! Rod has Stewie Stone on the bill." Nowadays, if your name can sell tickets, you're the headliner.
So now here's a flashback to the days of the Borscht Belt…