Rita Rudner has been making people laugh all of her life.
And she does it without vulgarity, humiliation or targeting politicians, as much as she might be tempted.
The Las Vegas headliner for 12 years and 2,000 shows — the longest running solo comedy act in “Sin City” — until about two years ago — roots her humor in the everyday plights of everyday people; she bases much of her comedy on things that she has done or has seen occur within her own family and friends.
In a telephone interview last week, the 63-year-old married mother of a 14-year-old teenager said she dares not go on tour for too long because she simply can’t trust her husband of 30 years, Martin Bergman, an accomplished screenwriter, director and producer, to handle household chores. He is one who ponders why the dishes come out of the dishwasher dirty when he forgot to take the paper off the dishwashing soap cubes.
On Saturday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m., Rudner will take the stage at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center for a two-hour show that will include an audience question-and-answer session at the end. Tickets are $32, $40, $45, $54 and $59 for box seats and can be purchased online through www.ycpac.com
Asked how she came to be performing in Prescott, Rita is quick to say it was simple: her publicist assured her she did not have to change planes. Even a simple response leaves one chuckling in empathy.
The center’s Marketing Specialist Michael Grady said Rudner has been an easy artist to schedule, and her comedy will have wide appeal to men and women alike.
“She doesn’t have to put on funny, she just is,” Grady said.
Prescott is a good place for comedy because people are so laid-back, and “there is not a lot of pretention with Rita Rudner,” he said.
“She lays it out in a way people can relate to, so it makes for a great fit,” Grady said.
Rudner’s rise to fame as a stand-up comedian evolved from her work as a dancer in Broadway musicals; her casting as “Annie” on Broadway prompted her to start exploring comedy in the clubs of Manhattan. Her style is called epigrammatic -- clever-witted, quick one-liners packed with meaning and humor. Her biography states she would spend hours studying recordings by such famed comedians as Jack Benny and Woody Allen.
As for her comedy, Rudner said, “It never comes from the same place -- I never know. It’s like living with Sybil.”
Rudner said she reads the local newspapers, particularly the police blotter, and never hesitates to make her inadequacies the butt of a joke.
She promises she strives to make certain her audiences leave with smiles on their faces.
“It’s not easy for people to get dressed up and go out and find a parking space and sit next to a stranger. I appreciate that,” Rudner said. “So I deliver the best show I possibly can deliver.
“And I have a new dress that doesn’t wrinkle and sparkles.”
When she’s on stage, Rudner said she treats the audience as guests in her living room. The only difference: “I don’t have to clean up after I leave.”
With a lot of comics today relying on foul language and political faux pas to create laughs, Rudner is a refreshingly ladylike, reviewers say. She makes her share of digs based on her societal observations, but she does so with dignity.
“I just do what feels right,” Rudner said of her style. “I’m a mother, and I wouldn’t be comfortable projecting an image I wouldn’t be comfortable to have my daughter see. If I tell her not to swear, and be a kind person, I should try and be one.”
As for political humor, Rudner said she prefers to leave that to the late-night talk show comedians. She certainly has her opinions — “I do know I’m right” — but she said she doesn’t feel her audiences want to hear her rehash the day’s headlines.
One of Rudner’s confessions is that when she needs to unwind after a hectic day, or just chooses to decompress, her go-to relaxation is reruns of the Mary Tyler Moore show.
“It’s like a mental martini,” Rudner said.
Though Rudner has been performing on stages all across the nation for more than 30 years, she said she never tires of the work. She, too, is the author of five books, including “Naked Beneath My Clothes,” “Tickled Pink,” and “I Still Have It…I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It: Confessions of a Fiftysomething.”
Her upcoming project is an autobiography that she said has a working title of “My Life in Dog Years.”
“It’s an honor to do comedy. I love what I do, and l love the people who come to see me. And I want to do it for as long as I can remember what I’m saying.”