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How The Unknown Comic turned an 8-minute bit into comic history

Chuck Barris runs The Unknown Comic - from YouTube.com

A quick conversation at V Theater with Sin City Comedy Club booking and operations manager Kevin Kearney on Sunday night led to this odd note about The Unknown Comic (as if there could be any other sort of note about the bagged jokesmith). Kearney is a great piano player and for years backed The Unknown Comic onstage.

As Kearney related, The Unknown Comic character was developed by longtime club comic Murray Langston, who had been booked on “The Gong Show” in the late 1970s. Langston feared that he’d be mocked by his comic brethren for appearing on the daffy game show, so he performed his set while wearing the bag to conceal his identity.

The act took off, and Langston became a show regular as The Unknown Comic. He later pulled the sack off during an episode of the weekly TV show “Real People,” but the character was so strong that Langston even today is still known as The Unknown Comic. This, despite the fact that the bit lasted only 8 minutes in Langston’s stand-up act.

Langston, who still dons the bag in his act, is co-headlining with long-ago "A.K.A. Pablo" star Paul Rodriguez at the Riviera from Aug. 31 through Sept. 11, one of the more curious pairings you'll find on the Strip. Or anywhere else.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow "Kats With the Dish" at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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John Katsilometes is a columnist and magazine writer for the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly and editor-at-large for ...

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