Go figure Thursday night's belated appearance by Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck turned out to be a solid contender for the funniest casino show of 2010.
The Fox News megastars hit the Atlantic City Hilton some six weeks after severe weather grounded the duo's New York-to-A.C. helicopter, thus washing out the original date. But past meteorological conditions certainly did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the sold-out crowd who enthusiastically--but hardly rabidly--cheered on their cable TV darlings.
Laughs came easily throughout the pair's hour-long turn, with both gentlemen displaying impressive timing as they cranked out their seemingly non-stop string of one-liners.
Taking a stage containing a pair of matching stools and end tables and a blackboard, the duo immediately set the evening's tone when O'Reilly explained the original date was 86'ed not by Mother Nature, but by President Obama's stopping flights that evening. From there, the two went merrily on their way, evoking not the right-wing firebrands so hated by liiberals, but a pair of veteran comics with an easy chemistry and genuine mutual affection and respect.
Not that the two blew kisses at each other all night; they seemed to target each other with their verbal jabs as often as they hurled invective at such expected targets as Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and '60s radical William Ayres (who Beck made out to be the most politicaly powerful individual since Julius Caesar). For instance, at one point, O'Reilly reported his notoriously pessimistic (paranoid?) partner "demanded to be paid in gold" for the gig. A little later on, Beck retaliated by lying down on the stage and pretending to sleep as O'Reillly launched what appeared was going to be a long-winded story about Beck.
Of course, the audiernce was far more entertained whenever the commentators turned their wrath on the president and his minions whom, Beck charged several times, was determined to bring down this country's political and economic systems--"fundamental transformation" was his favorite phrase--in favor of a Marxist blueprint.
Were these jokes harsh and disrespectful? Absolutely. Were they any worse than what people like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart deal out to George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, et al on TV and the concert stage? Absolutely not.
Beck was definitely the more vitriolic of the two; thanks to his pit bull approach to his philosophical enemies, O'Reilly came off as downright level-headed and tolerant (e.g. it was Beck who identified Pelosi as a "rat" in a bit about Obama's more bizarre press conference moments).
It wasn't all wisecracks however, as the two addressed such topics as Obama's approval-ratings slide and the 2012 presidential election (they agreed the Republicans need a strong leader to emerge and galvanize all party members, but neither was able to identify who that might be). Again, it was Beck who was more strident in his remarks.
Incidentally, the audience wasn't anything like what stereotype-happy liberals might have assumed. To be honest, the generally middle-aged (and virtually all-white) crowd looked liked it would have been just as at home at casino performance by Louie Anderson or Air Supply . To put it another way, the two 50-something women standing behind me in line certainly didn't look like they want to bring down the current government--make a quilt for it maybe, but not bring it to its knees.