Rita Rudner has seemingly done it all -- thrived as a wife and mom while finding success as a comedian and entertainer. Along the way, she's made it look easy.
Just in time for Mother's Day, she'll be in the area Saturday, May 12, to dish out a dose of live comedy at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake.
A favorite in Las Vegas since she opened as one of the hottest tickets in town, Rudner is known for her one-liners. Over the course of 15 years, she's become the longest-running solo comedy show in the city's history and has been named Las Vegas' Comedian of the Year for nine years in a row.
The gig allowed her to stay in one place while raising her child.
"I'm lucky; I got to be a mother and have a career," Rudner says. Becoming Vegas' longest-running solo comedy show was icing on the cake, she adds. "I have the worn-out high heels to prove it."
The independence of comedy is one reason Rudner loves it so much. "There's nothing like wearing what you want to wear, with nobody telling you what to do," she says.
"It's very liberating to write my own thoughts and say them. It's also a lot of responsibility. But I like the feeling of freedom."
Rudner moved to New York at age 15 to become a dancer on Broadway. From there, she began exploring the comedy clubs of Manhattan, taking a leap in the early 1980s from chorus lines to punch lines. Before long, she was a regular on "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show."
Since then, she's had a full plate, delivering HBO specials, best-selling books, stand-up performances nationwide and a syndicated daily TV show. She frequently collaborates on screenplay projects with her writer/producer husband of nearly three decades, Martin Bergman. She also helped write the 2001 and 2003 Oscars with Steve Martin and the 2002 broadcast with Whoopi Goldberg.
Working with Martin was a highlight. "I love his work ethic, his sense of humor, his demeanor," Rudner says.
There also have been embarrassing moments, including the time she forgot to remove the price tag on the back of a gown -- and an audience member asked about it.
Throughout, Rudner's work ethic has never waned. "My husband says when people want to see you, get out there; it doesn't last forever," she muses. "And I don't have any other skills; that's why I had to work really hard."
Despite her onstage persona, Rudner says she quieter than people expect -- and more introverted. Being a strong socializer and networker "has always been my weak point; it's just not who I am," she says. "I'm so bad at remembering people's names and saying the right thing. I love making people laugh on stage, but I look at all those parties, and I just get a headache."
Despite her success, Rudner faces the same challenges all moms do, including those that come with raising a 15-year-old daughter.
"Teenagers are a little moody; I might be slightly understating it," she says. "I'm proud that I've instilled in her a sense of responsibility, like never go to school without having your work completed."
Her daughter knows she's got a funny mom -- but the truly humorous person in the household is her father, Rudner says. "She laughs more at him," she says. "He's the funny dad; I'm the strict mom."
As her daughter grows more independent, Rudner says she isn't planning to slow down anytime soon. She and her husband have written a third play, she's working on an autobiography and has more plans to tour.
"My daughter encourages me to travel; she knows she'd get more freedom, too," she says. "Then she can do more things that I don't want her to."
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When: 8 p.m. Saturday, May 12
Where: Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, rauecenter.org
Tickets: Start at $35