LAS VEGAS — Comedy king Carl Reiner was feted Sat. night with the first annual Steve Allen Pioneer of Comedy Award at the inaugural Las Vegas Comedy Festival. The five-day confab was held at the Stardust Resort on Sept. 4-8.
In presenting Reiner his award, Jayne Meadows said, “I am thrilled and proud to be here for this creative festival. Steve devoted his whole career to the development of young talent. He would say, ‘I merely introduced them, their talent made them stars.'” Reiner accepted his kudos via videotape.
Others honored were Debbie Reynolds, who received the fest’s lifetime achievement award, and George Carlin, who garnered the Las Vegas comedian of the year title.
Hosted by Norm Crosby, Gary Owens, and Ellen Cleghorne, the award ceremony kicked off with a special appearance by impersonator Steve Bridges as Pres. George W. Bush.
The Laugh Across America Contest, under the direction of Mary Thomas, named winners in seven categories. Honorees were Sammy Miller, Adam Lee Thielen, Gil Lubin, Paul Okin, Reid Belstock, Bobby Mitchell, and Brad Upton for youth, teen, college, senior, prop, parody, and mainstream categories, respectively. Each winner will participate in the Laugh Across American Encore Tour to be held in comedy clubs across the country starting early next year.
Produced by Steve Caito and Mark Allen, the comedy fest featured live performances by veteran comedians, marketing and business seminars, open mike sessions, and trade show exhibitors including popular sit-com stars of the sixties and seventies.
Among the comedy stars heading up festival performances and roundtable discussion groups were Shelley Berman, Rhonda Shear, Jo Anne Worley, Renee Taylor, Joe Bologna, Barb and Steve North, Pete Barbutti, Carole Montgomery, and Las Vegas’ Second City troupe.