The Chat Pack’s casino show was “over the top” in every sense of those words.
Outstanding one-of-a-kind music, breezy and wild conversation jazzed by alcohol, never-seen-before high fashion, barely legal jokes from blue comedian Les Tremaine “and even a whole lot more booze” according to anyone in attendance. In this case, here’s a 2003 blow-by-blow account by The American Log who was part of the attendance one night in the early days of the rise of The Chat Pack…
BALLAST, January 22 – The Chat Pack era has begun in Wisconsin and it couldn’t have happened at a better time given the state of affairs in the world today.
Amid cheers and thundering applause, the Milwaukee Talk crew, led by co-host Vic Shell, swaggered on stage flanked by executive producer Allen Kew and longtime stage manager Les Tremaine, and then proceeded to deliver over two hours of high caliber, mid-market entertainment on Friday night.
“What am I looking at out here?” a drunken but happy Les Tremaine slurred as he peered out at a sold-out crowd of over 500 at the Ballast Casino and Events Center.
“That’s what a sold-out show looks like Les!” beamed Allen Kew.
“That’s right. And if you don’t like that, you don’t like candy,” Vic Shell explained.
“Well I think that calls for some Black Velvet!” chortled Les Tremaine, as he waved his empty sniffer and requested a second, or was it third, helping of the Canadian whiskey. On cue, Rob Tomas and the Half & Halfway House Band launched into the opening riff of the 1990’s hit song of that same name as Mary Margaret sashayed onstage to deliver yet another epic rendition of the catchy, bluesy ditty.
After the number, Vic Shell shouted out to an approving audience. “You ate up so much of that performance you better wait an hour if you want to go swimming!”
“Too late,” said Les as he poured a generous helping from the bottle of Black Velvet he held in his hands. “I must be swimming like a fish already…‘cause I’m pissed to the gills!”
It’s the kind of shtick that comes naturally to this pack of four entertainers who effortlessly glide through an evening of one-liners, amusing stories and song that make these the fastest two hours you’ll experience this winter in Wisconsin.
“Judging by the meteoric rise and high success level the act is enjoying, there’s no telling where this project is going to take us or our daytime show,” the in-front-of and behind-the-scenes brains of the operation, Allen Kew, told The American Log backstage. “The sky really is the limit.”
Back onstage Les is standing front and center delivering one of his trademark blue-rated stand-up comedy jokes. “Dirty Old Dick Hornman had been living at the old age home for about three weeks and he still hadn’t got lucky with any of the ladies. That morning he decided poor old Viola and he were going to get busy together. He approached her in the breakfast room, sat at her table and told her right up front, “Viola, I’ll give you 20 dollars if you sleep with me”. Viola took one look at him and said “No way Hornman”.
That afternoon he saw her at bingo, sat next to her and said, “you know, I’d give you 50 bucks for an O-yeah!” Viola took one look at him and pointed at the N and O on the top of her bingo card and said, “No way Hornman”.
Later on at music night Dirty Old Dick Hornman came up with a plan. He requested they play “Summer Wind”, as he knew it was Viola’s favorite song. He asked her to dance. She said yes. As they spun around that dance floor he whispered in her ear, “I’ll give you 100 dollars if you’ll sleep with me… right now”. I don’t know if it was the music or what but Viola stopped dancing, looked him right in the eye, nodded her head yes and they went back to her room and they made mad, passionate whooppee. Afterwards, Hornman handed Viola 100 bucks and told her a matter of factly… “you know… if I knew it was your first time… I would have given you 200 dollars”. Viola looks back at him and says, “you know Hornman… if I knew you were serious about the 100 dollars…I would have taken off my pantyhose”.
At the end of the night, Mary winds up the show with another masterfully executed version of “Black Velvet”. Vic Shell and Les Tremaine roll back onstage arm-in-arm and drunkenly lament to the audience that they’re out of “Black Velvet” too, showing off their empty 40 ounce bottle. “Have a good evening and I hope you drive us home safely.”
As you can see, The Chat Pack era was in full swing. And with it came the inevitable backswing from haters and detractors lurking on just about every street corner. In the last few weeks we told you about how Milwaukee Talk’s own Vic Shell was immortalized with the naming of Vic Shell Lane in downtown Milwaukee. This week we’re going to show you how a class-A team like The Chat Pack react when those haters and detractors cowardly lash out. How? By pulling together with strength, wisdom, words, and the right amount of tempered-might as they each bring their individual vitality to the team’s table.
Strength, as Les figuratively and literally selflessly allows the weight of the hateful act to rest on his own shoulders.
Wisdom, as Mary effortlessly steps forward offering a constructive solution at just the right time.
Words, as Vic lays down the law and tells it like is to those faceless yet cowardly haters and detractors.
Tempered-might, as Allen allows them the air time to let them talk about it, all the while with his finger securely on the audio censor button.