Monday, December 31, 2007

Pudgy! passes

Just in time to make the list of Celebrities Who Croaked in 2007 comes word that Beverly Vines, the popular mistress of ceremonies and insult comedian known by the stage name Pudgy!, has died.

I first saw Pudgy! (always spelled with an exclamation point) on one of her several appearances on Showtime cable in the early '80s. For those of you unfamiliar with her act, imagine a female Don Rickles — or, to cite a more contemporary reference, think Lisa Lampinelli without the torrential profanity. Pudgy! specialized in off-the-cuff ripostes at members of her audience, demonstrating a nimble wit and an engaging ability to poke fun at herself as much as others. (She called herself Pudgy!... and she was.)

It's been at least 20 years since I last saw Pudgy!, but on our most recent Vegas vacation, I was pleased to see that she was still working. As she often did when playing Vegas, she was headlining a burlesque revue featuring younger, more svelte women removing their clothes. I thought it amusing that a comic who rarely worked blue frequently hooked up with raunchy strip shows, but I guess she enjoyed the hours and the paychecks.

Pudgy! was a hilariously funny lady, and from what I've heard, well-liked and respected in a tough industry. Hopefully Comedy Central will dig up some of her old tapes and air them sometime soon.

I haven't seen a cause of death cited in any of the obits, but I know that Pudgy! had a history of heart problems and underwent bypass surgery some years ago.

She'll no doubt be missed by her family, friends, and many fans.

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