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Why yes I have heroes! And one is coming to Knoxville!

My heroes and role models center around comedians. The list of influences is huge including Red Fox, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas…hold on…basically the SCTV and Saturday Night Live casts. I can narrow the list to four people: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Bill Murray, and Robin Williams. When I was around twelve years old, Robin Williams got me in a bunch of trouble when I did his "moisture heat seeking missile" routine that involved a lot of pelvic gyrations for some guests my parents were entertaining. I had no idea what I was doing or saying. The guests were rolling on the floor and my father was fuming. That was my first Carlos Mencia lesson: don’t perform other people’s material.

Robin Williams is coming to Knoxville on April 11th to the Civic Auditorium! There’s even a VIP Meet & Greet package available! Well, he may be coming to Knoxville. His doctor has advised him to skip four Florida scheduled shows due to recent heart surgery.

On August 20, 2007, Williams’ elder brother, Robert Todd Williams, died of complications from heart surgery performed a month earlier. [Source, Wikipedia, Robin Williams]

I wish I was still participating in the Red Cross’ FAST program or that I could justify a ticket. Maybe Robin Williams wants to give himself an intermission during the show and would like a juggler to come on stage with him!

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Knoxville’s Riviera Stadium 8 Grand Opening Celebration

Knoxville Riviera Theatre
Photo taken 8/18/07 by patti74_99

The new Regal Cinema on Gay Street opens this week. I will be juggling from 5pm to 6:30pm at the Opening Night Celebration. My understanding is that it is a street party although the first press release I read implied invite only. Same press release, different location.

Ah! Here is some better information. Looks like the events within the theatre are invitation only while a street party is being held for the public. I will be juggling in the street party. Watch for the fire! Michael Messing will be performing magic and there should be other entertainers.

On Monday, August 27, the Regal Riviera will host an Opening Night Celebration. On this evening, there will be an invitation-only party to celebrate the new theatre and recognize those who made this theatre project possible. The public is welcome to enjoy a “Street Party” on this evening as well. This free event will be held on Gay Street just outside the new Riviera. The “Street Party” will feature a live performance by East Tennessee’s own RobinElla and a ceremonial ticket tearing to commemorate the opening of the new theatre.

The exciting week of promotional events continues on Tuesday, August 28, Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30. Everyone is invited to these Preview Events for $1 movies, $1 popcorn and $1 soft drinks with proceeds benefiting local charities. Through September 30th Riviera patrons will be able to enter Regal Cinemas “Rediscover Downtown” Sweepstakes to win a $2,000 prize pack: $500 Regal Cinemas Gift Card, $500 Mast General Store Card plus $1,000 to spend as you like downtown. No purchase is necessary. Sweepstakes rules are available at the theatre.

On Thursday, August 30 there will be added entertainment available at the Riviera Stadium 8 with a free fireworks show presented by Pyro Shows. The night-time sky will light up at 9:30pm with a spectacular display choreographed to popular movie theme songs simulcast on WIVK 107.7 FM. The “Salute to Cinema Fireworks Show” will be easily viewed from all across downtown Knoxville with additional fireworks accentuating the Regal Riviera’s marquee on Gay Street.


I think it is very interesting that the site of the theater is the same as the 1920’s Rivieria Theater. Good move Knoxville! From the Knox Heritage site:

510 South Gay Street – Riviera Theatre (1920)
Art Deco, two story brick with corbelled cornice, projecting engaged pilasters. Chicago window in central of three bays, flanked by two smaller windows. Vertical mullions divide top side and all windows are topped by transoms divided vertically. Flat roof. Altered storefront. GONE-Demolished in 1988.

The Riviera was built in 1920 into an existing Victorian building that stood on the east side of the 500 block of Gay Street. It featured a Wurlitzer organ and the innovative “Typhoon” ventilation system. It seated more than 1,000 and was hailed as “a shrine of the silent art.” It christened what would be more than half a century of movies with DeMille’s silent film, Conrad In Search Of His Youth.

Like most theaters, the Riviera featured its share of live entertainment, from dancer Ginger Rogers to early jazz bands like the popular local orchestra Maynard Baird’s Southland Serenaders.

In 1927 the Riviera showed what was almost certainly the only big-studio film shot in this area during the silent era, Stark Love. The star of the controversial film, which included a brief nude scene, was Helen Mundy, a reluctant actress whom the director had discovered in a downtown Knoxville soda fountain. The movie was a national sensation for about a week, hailed by some critics as one of the great films of the year; then, like its ambivalent star, it was forgotten.

The Riviera burned in 1963, sending an audience who had come to watch the special-effects adventure film Jason and the Argonauts fleeing into the street. Except for the façade, it was considered a near total loss but, remarkably, was restored, less grandly, in a matter of months, and reopened with the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant thriller, Charade. It continued showing films until Adios Amigo in early 1976, followed by a series of second-run films the following summer; after that came a dozen years of broken dreams, as one developer after another proposed reopening the Riviera as a performing arts center, a dinner theater or an “ultramodern” office building. Though there was a sentimental effort to restore the theater in the 1970s. The rear of the building, for years, displayed a large black-and-white mural of Charlie Chaplin, clearly visible from James White Parkway.

The building was torn down around 1988 with little comment. The site is now paved for a parking lot.


They should update that bit about the parking lot. Cinema Treasures has another reference to the 1920s Riviera. See you in the streets!

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PG-13 means dick jokes

variety show

Thank you Bindlestiff Family Circus for making me have to explain "deep throating" to my teenagers.

Me: "Do you know what deep throating is?"
Teenager: "Yes. It’s when you swallow something partly then spit it up."
Me, thinking: *close*

I enjoyed their stark stares of dread as they tried to melt into the upholstery during my explanation. They needed an explanation because it was clear they didn’t understand when they made a dozen deep throat jokes in front of the grandfather between the theater and the parking garage. Of course, I really appreciate the detail at which you explained the proper use of a condom. I have been trying to figure out how to have that conversation with them and now I don’t need to.

Cathy's boyfriend

Thank you for the interesting date for the first half of the show. I certainly would have enjoyed sitting with Cathy but I suppose this is called a variety show for a reason.

Your show was innovative and right in line with the style I like to attempt in my performances although I’m more G rated. Thank you for keeping the spirit of Vaudeville alive. I had a blast! Of course, Danny would probably like to know that a highlight of the show was having the very Republican father-in-law sit motionless as the theater erupted into its most raucous cheering and applause in response to the very pointed GW Bush jokes.