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May 13, 2007 - Interview with Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell

Dianne R. Davis - Views of VegasViews, Reviews, and Interviews
by Dianne R. Davis
diannerd@aol.com 
Photos by Dianne or Burt Davis
   
HELLO DERE!

Marty Allen and Karon Kate talk about life, marriage and their careers.

Marty Answers the Burning Question, Where is dere?

Hello Dere. For the six or seven of you who might not know, thatís been Marty Allenís trademark greeting throughout his career. How did it begin? I found the answer for the curious among you.

Marty Allen and Karon Kate are currently appearing at the Gold Coast. The venue is a nice change for this couple who spend the majority of their time on the seas, entertaining on cruise ships, but a nice change. The unlikely pair has called Las Vegas home since 1990. Their show is fast- paced, clean, and filled with 90 minutes of great entertainment. Bottom line: Heís funny. His one iners just keep on coming and his skits are old fashioned shtick. Sheís a terrific singer, pianist, and straight woman for his physical humor.


Karon Kate and Marty Allen

In addition to being partners on stage, the two have been married for almost 24 years. Marty recently celebrated his 85th birthday. She is a good 20 years his junior. I was privileged to be at his show and birthday reception and see and feel the warmth and good wishes from their many friends. There is no show business pretension with these two. Just nice folks.

DD: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. And I appreciate people who are on time.
Who is the punctual one or are both of you always on time?

MA: Weíre petty good on time.

DD: Marty, where is dere? Where did the expression ďHello DereĒ come from?

MA: It happened one night when I couldnít think. I went blank. I looked out into the audience and said, ďHello dere.Ē They laughed. After the show, people walked over to me and said ďHello dere.Ē I realized that I had found a catch phrase to become like trade mark. You wait all your life to find this.

DD: Youíve been in the business a long time. What changes have you seen for better or worse? How has comedy changed and how would you like to change it?

MA: Well, the one thing I do is maintain a clean show. Karon and I did over 300 cruise ships, 600 shows, family oriented. I love the possibility that kids can come in and see the show. Some of kids today that are performing are not with it. I maintain that you can do a clean funny show with no vulgarity.

DD: You spend many hours together. What do you do separately?

MA: I read a lot to relax. I try to keep up on whatís happening in the world. I try to find the humor in things to use in the act. Karen writes songs and music

KK: I either exercise like crazy or just do something. Marty walks, he watches television. Then he falls asleep. Thatís great. I come home at night, I start futzing. I find something physical to do. Sewing. Cooking. I love to cook anything to do with vegetables and brown rice.

DD:. What do you want people to know about you?

MA: I think they already know about me There is one thing, you canít be Ďoní all the time. That would get ridiculous. I have different moods. I can be quiet, read, talk. Iím not always on all the time.

DD: When and where would you want people to ignore you or say hi to you? When should your fans acknowledge you and when should they leave alone?

KK: I think if I am in intense conversation and trying to eat, people should respect that. Neither of us have ever been bothered because you donít do what we do without the people and you must always remember that. Neither of us ever forgets that and we hope we never do. I donít want to be rude to anyone. In this business, you must care about people. They can say stupid things sometimes, but thatís because they didnít know what to say.

I donít mind. One thing, perhaps partly because of my success, is that Iíll talk to anybody. On ship, they liked the fact that I didnít stay in my room. I would walk among the people and talk to them. Iíll be gracious to them. And they appreciate that. I really like people.

MA: It isnít all about how to make money. People should be aware that somebody else is treating them with respect. We try to do that. Over the course of years, I must have taken 3,000 photos with people.

DD: Two of them were with me! Is there someone you would love to meet?

MA: I have many friends that were authors. Sidney Shelton was a good friend. I would have liked to meet Einstein. He was a very interesting person and he had the same hair as me.

You know they have art auctions on the ships. One day, I went over to the guy in charge and asked him if he had sold the picture of my father yet. He had no clue what I was talking about. Then I found the one of Albert Einstein and said, Ďdad, dadí.

KK:I would have loved to have met Katherine Hepburn. I was absolutely knocked out by her. There are so many wonderful people. The prophets. I would have loved to meet Elvis. And Oprah. I would really love to meet Oprah. She is another Mississippi gal, so intelligent and creative. She would be a fun person to sit and talk to about all kind of things. I love her approach to things.

DD: Iíd love to meet her too. Letís see if we can do that someday

DD: Karon, do you have a dress designer?

KK: I have people that I work with. We design and make costumes from scratch. If I am lucky, I sometimes pick up something at Nordstromís and then we change it. Sometimes we donít have to change it. I hate shopping. Thereís a wonderful boutique I go to. Helen at West of SoHo is so helpful.

DD: Your show business marriage has stood the test of time. Almost 24 years so far. Who proposed and how?

KK: {lengthy pause} We had started working together. I turned to him and said, ĎWhat are we going to do?í He said, ĎI guess we should get married.í

DD: At this point Karon asked Marty who proposed and he replied that, ďSomebody called it in.Ē

DD: Whatís your secret for a long marriage?

KK: Marty looks for the funny side of situations. Especially when I want to fight. I think thatís part of it. Laughter.

DD: Who has the final word?

KK: I am actually fairly easy going. We looked for house for eleven months. We lived in a hotel all that time. Finally, when we found one he liked, I said fine, lets buy it. We are good compromisers. When it comes to the show, we really do go back and forth and talk about it. We donít agree all the time, but we never have huge fights about anything. You know, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy. When all is said and done, most things donít make that much different.

DD: What charities are you involved in supporting and how?

KK: Iíve always done a lot for Child Haven over the years. These children that are abused.. I try to go about it quietly. Those children are so wonderful. They had luncheon for me once and the children were of all different ages and they are all so polite.

DD: Will you retire?

KK I hope I do one day. I donít think Marty ever will. I donít see it happening any time soon. Somebody said to me, why doesnít Marty retire. Why?! It keeps him young.

MA: One thing about keeping going and entertaining. One day something was pulling on my pants, I looked down. It was little kid who had just seen my show. He said, hey man, youíre awesome.

DD: Right now, you are sharing your talents with Las Vegas residents and visitors. But you spend a lot of time on cruise ships. Whatís the appeal?

KK: Itís really exciting, one of these gigantic theaters that seat 1200 in the audience. You do one show and then a second seating. It is exciting, but nothing compares to working in Las Vegas. I just love it.

DD: What do you like best about playing Vegas?

KK: The best part is going home and sleeping in your own bed. Traveling is very difficult.

DD: Are the audiences different? Which do you prefer? Who is your audience?

KK: I find people are the same no matter where. You go out and entertain them. They are a mirror for me. I give what they do. It took me a long time to discover that. I am from the south. We went to Catskills. I tried to be the way I thought they expected. But I learned that we should just be who we are. People are the same all over the world. And I just love entertaining. Both of us are just absolutely so lucky that weíre still able to work in this industry.

DD: We are the lucky ones to be able to enjoy such an entertaining show.

Marty and Karon perform one show nightly Wednesdays through Sundays at the Gold Coast Showroom. Call 702-251-3574 for more information.


Dianne R. Davis and Marty Allen


Dianne R. Davis and Karon Kate Blackwell

 



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