After getting booted by the Venetian, followed by a brief spell at the V Theater, Gordie Brown has found a home again. He's settling in as the resident headliner at the Golden Nugget. A hotel that caters heavily to the AARP demographic, the Nugget seems to have found the right man for its showroom.
Even if Brown's humor leaves you mirthless (and it would help if he didn't laugh so much at his own jokes), it has to be admitted that most of the retiree-age crowd at a recent performance ate him up and would gladly have come back for more. Possessor of an impressive baritone voice and unquenchable energy, Brown gives value for the money, doing a 105-minute show. He's backed by a five-piece band with whom he enjoys a playfully combative rapport.
In essence, Brown is Danny Gans with more contemporaneousness and without the self-pitying lachrymosity. True, most of Brown's contemporary references seemed to miss their target audience -- like the Fine Young Cannibals reference that fell upon deaf ears. But give Anthony Newley a shout-out and the crowd is Brown's to command. But if you're under 45, the bits that "kill" are probably going to seem mildewy to you. Besides, judging from his Green Day and Alanis Morissette impersonations, Brown needs to work on his post-2000 material (and stop using gay jokes as a crutch).
Brown's modus operandi is basically to throw as many pop-culture references as possible against the wall and see which ones stick. He went to the George W. Bush well frequently and not unwisely: It's a good impersonation and never failed to tickle the audience's collective funny bone. Willie Nelson was spot-on; ditto Louis Armstrong (better than Gans'), Ray Charles, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Elton John, Joe Cocker and Chris Rock, while his Neil Young and Jimmy Stewart were in the ballpark.
Conversely, a cruelly overlong On Golden Pond riff made Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn sound like Clint Eastwood and Nathan Lane. Bill Cosby somehow obtains a German accent, Nicolas Cage is just like Jimmy Stewart, only slower, and Tom Jones comes off as Robin Williams. Perhaps it's time to put away Christopher Walken, as well: You can find better Walken impersonations on YouTube.
An Elvis Presley medley (we're in Vegas, aren't we?) is the show's close, made funnier by the tendency of things to go wrong. But make no mistake; there are professional Elvii in Vegas who do not impersonate the King as well as Brown. His Michael Jackson encore is in questionable taste but at least he's got the moves down.
The upside of Gordie Brown is that there's something for everybody. But having a long memory (and flexible standards) is definitely a prerequisite.
Tues.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.
129 E. Fremont St.