Even the classics need to be updated sometimes. In the case of Bob Newhart's upcoming shows at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, you'll hear a lot of the material you remember listening to back when the phrase "record player" didn't automatically elicit a snicker.
But, in adjusting for a new generation, Newhart changes topics on stage more often. The reason: shorter attention spans. He believes the trend dates back to the 1968-73 variety show "Laugh-In," which he guested on once.
"You could almost feel when 'Laugh-In' first came on, and now with MTV and 'Saturday Night Live' and 'MADtv,' there seemed to be a shortening of the attention span," Newhart said. "Where we used to do seven- or eight-minute routines, now we bring them down to four-and-a-half-minute routines. People are accustomed to MTV's cutting style where it's 'bang, bang, bang, bang.'"
If you go
Who: Bob Newhart
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29-30
Where: Grand Casino Mille Lacs Events & Convention Center
Tickets: $25 and $32, available at (651) 989-5151 or www.ticketmaster.com
While his jokes might not be as long, he still structures each bit as meticulously as he always has.
"I still take my time," Newhart said. "As far as timing is concerned, I don't think that has changed."
And his selection of topics hasn't changed, either. Even with the elections coming up, he maintains his policy of avoiding political humor.
"I tend to stay away from current events. I don't get into the political thing," he said. "You can alienate half your audience. I don't think that's what people come to see. They want to be entertained, not lectured to. Usually, I'll do one or two jokes of the old recorded material and the rest is observational, commenting on this weird planet we all live on."
-- John Hansen
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.