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Harry Anderson in "Wise Guy"



In fine, pressed slacks, sporty jacket and vintage tie, he roams his newly renovated stage like a panther who's already had more than his fair share of meals. So why does magician, comedian and former TV star Harry Anderson still seem so hungry as he goes through the paces of his new act, "Wise Guy," at his belatedly opened new nightclub, Oswald's Speakeasy? Maybe it's because sometimes when an entertainer who has lived as varied and full a professional life as Anderson has, there's a desire to revisit and make anew for a fresh audience. "Wise Guy" is a delightfully enigmatic show; one part magic act, one part stand-up routine (of course), but also one part cultural preservation. Anderson, an underrated actor, is at his best during a dark (and not so funny) monologue midway through his act and culled from that disturbing 1947 cult classic, Nightmare Alley, as he taps into two of his many obsessions: film noir and carnie culture. Urbane, tres-French pianist Gilles Marschall (of Irene's Cuisine fame) opens the set and serves as Anderson's comic foil. When Anderson says he wants to bring some of the magic back to the French Quarter -- where he once roamed as a street performer in the '70s before Night Court and Dave's World -- he also means the magic of bygone eras. His encyclopedic knowledge encompasses vaudeville, the circus, film, TV and what he calls "chapeaulogy" -- hat culture. So this version of "Wise Guy" is just one of many he'll pull out of his own, ever-present chapeau as he gets the club up and running. He plans to bring down some of his buddies from the good old days, and Oswald's plans other events including a classic film-screening series beginning July 13. Tickets for "Wise Guy" $20; available by phone, at the club or at Sideshow (828 Chartres St.). Reservations recommended

9:30 Wednesday-Sunday, July 6-9; ongoing
OswaldÕs Speakeasy, 1331 Decatur St., 218-5954


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