Rickles not rude - just 'exaggerates all of our insecurities'

2012-12-05T00:00:00Z Rickles not rude - just 'exaggerates all of our insecurities'Cathalena E. Burch Cburch@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
December 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Comedian Don Rickles wishes he could walk as fast as he did when he was in his 20s.

"I don't walk like I did when I was 22," he says in his signature rapid clip. "Sometimes I tell my wife (Barbara), 'Geez I wish my walk was a little better.' And she says 'You're 86!' And it's true - you can't walk like you're 22.

"But when I'm out on the stage, that energy pops in and I go like a tiger."

Expect the tiger to roar when Rickles hits the Casino del Sol Conference Center stage Friday.

And for the uninitiated, Rickles, the legendary stand-up and actor famously nicknamed "Mr. Warmth" for poking fun at audience members does not insult people.

That would be rude, he says, then gives an example:

"I'm talking to you now and really, you annoy me," he says, and while that may look rude in black and white, having Don Rickles call you annoying is funny.

"There's a way of saying things. Frank Sinatra, who was a dear friend rest his soul, I would say, 'Frank, I'm talking to somebody. Just wait a minute.' And he will fall down laughing. It's all attitude," says Rickles, who is making his first Tucson appearance in a decade.

"What I say is not necessarily a joke. I don't do 'Good evening, two guys got off a bus.' I don't do jokes; I do situations. And when I talk my attitude is what makes it funny. And so when people say I insult people, I never insult people. What it is is I exaggerate all of our insecurities."

Rickles says he's a good judge of people. He can tell just by looking at them if they will be good sports for his comedy.

"I think I would have been a good psychiatrist. I really can look at people and pretty much feel what they're like and what I can say and what I can do," he says. "It's not a planned thing. Every night when I do my shows, there's a beginning, middle and ending. You have to have that. But it changes every night. And it's not like I stand and make fun of the audience all night."

Rickles started doing comedy in the early 1950s and is one of the few comics of his generation still performing.

"I've been blessed, I really have. At my age, to be going just as good as ever and (having) young people coming to see me, which makes me very happy. Things are good for me. Retirement is so far in the distance, thank God, and it's great," he says, then ticks off a list of things that have kept him going all these years: a good marriage of 47 years, a strong family and staying mentally and physically active.

"As I'm speaking to you now, I'm on my exercise bike. Every day for an hour I ride the recumbent bike," he says. "It's always good to try to be active. If you sit down in a chair and look at the birds, poor things, a lot of people lose their being. And of course it's like anything else - as you get older the motor in your body slows down. And you don't walk like you did when you were 22."

But when night falls and the stage lights come on, he says, "that's when I shoot my gun and all the energy comes out."

If you go

• What: Don Rickles in concert.

• When: 8:30 p.m. Friday.

• Where: Casino del Sol Conference Center, 5655 W. Valencia Road.

• Tickets: $40 to $60 at tickets.solcasinos.com

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