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Morning Call: Ellen DeGeneres’ even bigger, really odd show launches festival

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Ellen DeGeneres and the cast of characters in “Ellen’s Even Bigger Really Big Show” at Caesars.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabik.com

Ellen DeGeneres admitted to thong hypocrisy last night.

“I have a lucky thong,” DeGeneres said during the taping of "Ellen’s Even Bigger Really Big Show" at The Colosseum at Caesars. “I’m wearing it right now. It’s made of playing cards -- ace, queen, king, jack, 10. Ironically, it’s a straight.”

She may have missed a joke about going “all in,” but no matter. The DeGeneres show, kicking off The Comedy Festival, was a hit, nearly filling the 4,000-seat Colosseum with Ellen devotees who shouted, “We love you, Ellen!” and “You rock, Ellen!” and even, “It’s my birthday, Ellen!” The show played out like The Ed Sullivan Show on acid -- you know it’s a collection of oddball acts when the spandex-and-cosmetic-layered kids from Mystere, who lugged their famed Korean plank onstage, seemed a relatively tame diversion.

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Ellen DeGeneres, kickin' it at the Colosseum.

Paraded onstage were Roberto and Cynthia with their dazzling pole act. These two seem to have gotten lost on their way to the Circus Circus midway, as Cynthia spun from a metal rod about 30 feet high while attached by only her long, brunette hair as Roberto spun her mightily. Roberto and Cynthia are from Spain and wore lavender-colored, sequin-splashed costumes. A Russian man introduced only as “Pasha” donned a costume made into a dancing ballroom couple and, bent in the middle, managed to dance a full rendition of “Strangers in the Night,” solo, but as a couple. I guess you had to see that one, but as Pasha said, “Sometimes I dance with my wife, but sometimes she is mad at me, so I dance by myself.”

DeGeneres unveiled a budding star in 8-year-old Tione Johnson, from DeGeneres’ hometown of New Orleans. Dressed in a quite mature frilly red, sequined dress (and there were thousands of sequins used in this production), Johnson cut loose with a Tina Turner-esque rendition of “Proud Mary.” (Note: If you want to make money in this entertainment business, find a kid who can sing a little, dress him/her in grown-up costumes and teach him/her some dance and stage moves beyond their years. Winner.) Predictably, she received a standing O. Spanish juggler Vanessa Alvarez, who spun an acoustic guitar and four (count ‘em!) decorative rugs with her feet, and former Planet Hollywood magician and wind-machine practitioner Hans Klok closed the show.

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A meeting of the minds: Ellen DeGeneres and a Russian hula-hoop artist.

But DeGeneres was the obvious draw; one of her recorded clips was a stint as a member of the Legends in Concert show (which is leaving Imperial Palace after more than 25 years and will resurface at Harrah's next year) where she performed an impression of herself under the name “Chrissie Stewart.” One audience member interviewed after the IP show said, “The real Ellen is much prettier.”

Ellen also bemoaned the size of many Las Vegas resort-casinos. “I was walking down a hall and saw the Earth’s curve. I took a wrong turn and wound up back in my house in L.A.” She talked of playing blackjack and opening a bag of nuts, only to be reprimanded by the dealer. “What, the guy next to me is smoking a Cuban cigar and has a hooker on his lap, but I can’t eat an almond?”

The host with some simple, sensible gambling advice:

*Cheat. No explanation or further directive provided.

*Steal from the dealers. “Technically you’re not stealing if you’re taking your own money back. I checked on this.”

*Don’t waste money on buffets. “People leave room-service trays outside their rooms, and there is nothing wrong with those fries.”

The crowd whooped and a fan shouted, yet again, “We love you, Ellen!” before (probably) canceling dinner plans.

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