Twain And Randall Entertain In Fine Style At Riviera Theatre

by Tom Flesher
Tonawanda News & Kenmore Record Advertiser

  The Mighty WurliTzer may have met its match.
WKBW weatherman Mike Randall visited the Riviera Theatre on Saturday night to perform his acclaimed one-man show, "Mark Twain Live." Though the crowd didn't quite know what to expect - many had never seen Randall perform it before - they found out quickly that Randall is a master of the character. Mike, however, prefers to share the credit.
  "It's a two-character show. It's Twain, of course, but it's the audience too," he asserted. "They're just as important to the show as he is."
  For over 25 years, Mike Randall has been doing his show regularly. He began the show at age seventeen to supplement his personal income, but within three years he had become so adept and so sharp that he was invited to perform for the State Department in Washington, D.C. Besides the Riviera, Randall has performed at such prestigious theaters as New York City's Little Hippodrome and the Buffalo Showboat. He says that the act is universal enough that every audience can appreciate it.
  "It's not dated. The idea of a candidate who can't sustain an investigation, for example, is just so out of today's current events," he said, making reference to a bit in which he declared that he was running for president, and went on to delineate each and every vice and wrongful act he had committed. "That's a credit to him, because these jokes are a hundred years old."
  However universal it is, though, Mike must change the act periodically. "Sometimes I do a piece from Huckleberry Finn, but I tried to steer clear of that tonight. The audience is expecting it."
The crowd was thrilled. Though some admitted that they didn't quite know what to make of him, the vast majority of spectators were held spellbound by Randall's dead-on characterization and perfectly timed humor. With only simple movements, such as a leisurely lighting of a pipe, Randall could reduce the crowd to a giggling mass.
  After the show, Mike told a few spectators about the research that goes into each performance. "There are some bits I use every night, but I try to keep it fresh. I'm always on the internet looking for more notes or more reviews of Mark Twain's actual performances." He also does his own makeup. "I had some friends in college who did theater makeup. They taught me a few tricks. I wear a wig and a nose. My hair's falling out - I'll never be able to use my own hair for this."
  Doing his own makeup has led him to a somewhat disheartening discovery. "When I was seventeen, I used a fake rubber neck to get myself some jowls," he sighed. "I don't need that neck anymore."

October 6, 1999 Tonawanda News & Kenmore Record Advertiser

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