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“Comedy Cuts 3″: In 1987, Canadian “national treasure” Lorne Elliott performed his crazy “Elvis with No Nose”
Our Comedy Cuts section on Night Flight Plus features performances by a wide variety of stand-up comedians who were filmed at various New York-area comedy clubs and then showcased occasionally on our 1980s-era “Night Flight” episodes.
Sometimes you’ll see comics you’ll recognize — like Chris Rock, Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar — and other times you’ll see stand-up comics who shared the same stage as these well known comedians but have pretty much themselves disappeared from TV.
We’ve highlighted “Comedy Cuts 3” before, since both Chris Rock and Rosie O’Donnell appeared in the same episode — along with other comics, including Frankie Pace, Ken Ober, and John Mendoza, which was filmed in 1987 at Rick Newman’s Catch A Rising Star comedy club, on 1st Avenue between East 78th Street and East 77th Street, in uptown NYC — but today we wanted to direct your attention to a performance towards the end of the show, by a very funny, wild maned-hair musical comedian, Canadian-born stand-up comic and all-around renaissance man Lorne Elliott.
While he isn’t necessarily considered a prop comic, this 1987 performance we’ve got for you features him donning sunglasses and a mask which makes the top half of his face look like Elvis — then, before he starts to sing “Love Me Tender” like the King, he pushes the mask down over his nose, which contorts his face into a noseless character that takes on a life of its own.
In the 1980s, Elliott used to close his stand-up routines with this “Elvis with No Nose” bit, but he also sang humorous songs without the mask, some of which — like “The Smallest Thing Known To Man” and “In the Morning,” which relates everything bad that can happen when waking up, from banging shins to cutting faces while shaving — have also been played on Dr. Demento’s syndicated radio show over the years (mostly during the 1990s).
His wild mane of hair is a bit more grey now, but he’s still pretty recognizable as the same funny guy who once stood in front of the fake brick wall at Catch A Rising Star and made an audience giggle while sipping their cocktails.
Elliott — who is today considered a “national treasure” in Canada (so sayeth the Montreal Mirror) — has made regular appearances at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival since it started in 1986.
His career has spanned more than forty years; in addition to comedy, he’s also a musician, author and award-winning playwright — he has also written screenplays and TV Comedies, skits and revues.
He actually began performing under his birth name — Chris Lorne Elliott — as a folk musician, back in 1974, but by the time he realized he was focusing more on comedy instead of purely music, he began using a shortened version of his name, dropping the name “Chris” so as not to be confused with the other funny Chris Elliott.
Lorne Elliott is probably best known in his native Canada — he was born in Montreal, and much of his humor remains “Canada-centric” for lack of a better term — as the long-time host of a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio show called “Madly Off in All Directions,” a job he held for eleven years, until 2006.
The show featured taped concerts of his from all across Canada.
The show not only allowed him the space to test his material on a live audience on a weekly basis, it also enabled him to be able to introduce new comics to the listening audience, cementing his reputation as a mentor and an all-around “good guy” who gives others their big chance.
Elliott is often praised for helping launch the careers of many young, wide-eyed comics on the show, hanging out with them after a new talent night and helping them workshop their material.
For many years, at the beginning of his career, he was considered an opening act for many of the top comedians of their day — Rodney Dangerfield and Jay Leno, for instance — but over the years, he developed a comedy act that was considered more “family friendly,” which endeared him to a much wider audience than some of his “edgier” contemporaries, but it also opened a lot of doors that would likely have been slammed in his face had he worked bluer material.
His routines frequently incorporated his playing on a miniature electric guitar, his trademark, or a small acoustic guitar, and his songs usually tend towards the folkier side of the spectrum.
He plays the guitar, banjo, ukulele, musical saw and sings in both English and fluent French.
For CBC, Elliott starred in TV comedy variety shows, including “What Else is On” and “Lorne Elliott’s Really Rather Quite Half-Decent TV Special.”
For a few years, he was also known as one half of the comedic duo (with Kevin Blackmore, aka “Buddy Wasisname”) called Free Beer (from 1979-1982).
More recently — for the past several decades — he usually performs alone, a one-man performance which encompasses jokes, stories and musical performances, at times satirical, witty, fast-paced and clever, with a bent towards intellectual banter that reveals he’s quite adept at making the audience think just as often as they laugh.
He’s usually described in reviews as “charming,” which isn’t always typically how reviewers talk about most comics.
Elliott has also written several books, which allows him to exercise his serious side, beginning with his debut novel, Beach Reading, which was selected as a finalist by the Quebec Writers Federation for the Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize. In 2009, Acorn Press published his novella titled The Fixer-Upper based on his play “Tourist Trap.”
Another of his novels, The Goat in the Tree, published in 2014, was part fictional travelogue, part love story, and set against the backdrop of Morocco and France.
One of his plays, “The Night The Racoons Went Berserk,” won the Best New Play Award at the Quebec Drama Festival 1983 and it was produced at the Charlottetown Theatre Festival in 1986 along with “Culture Shock,” another comedy of his which has been produced across Canada since 1981: it was filmed by CBC TV in 1989.
“The Pelley Papers” was premiered at Upper Canada Playhouse in September 1995. “Tourist Trap” was premiered in August 2000 at Theatre On The Grand in Fergus (Ontario) and it has had several productions across Canada since then.
His play “How I Broke Into Showbiz” was produced in Charlottetown in 2005 and again in Hudson (Quebec) in 2015. “Culture Shock – The Musical” premiered in July 2009 at the Stephenville Theatre festival.
Lorne Elliott received the 2012 Playwrights Guild of Canada New Musical Play Award for his play ”Jamie Rowsell Lives.” Again in 2015, Playwrights Guild of Canada, recognized his work by giving him the Comedy Award for his play “MOM RUNS AMOK.”