Funnyman Bruce Vilanch Gets Serious for a Second

Bruce Vilanch is a very funny guy.

He penned the catchy quips for 23 Academy Awards shows—along with dozens of Emmy, Tony, People’s Choice, SAG and American Comedy Awards broadcast—and took home six Emmys for himself in the process.

Vilanch is probably best known as the zinger on the “Hollywood Squares” game show, where he also served as head writer.

On Oct. 5, he will be bringing his new one-man show to the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center.

“It’s not standup comedy, I call it sit down comedy. It’s topical, but also stories from my ridiculous career in show biz, writing 23 Oscars shows and working with Bette Midler for 150 years,” the blond-maned writer explained in a telephone interview with SFGN.

He would later admit that he really hadn’t worked with Midler for 150 years (It just “seemed like 50”), but remained tightlipped when it came to any of the material he had lined up for the appearance in South Florida.

There were no jokes, however, when the conversation turned to current events and specifically, his nemesis President Donald Trump. The LGBT activist was surprisingly circumspect:

“It’s funny on the face of it, but tragic in the effect (Trump’s dysfunction) has on our country and society. It just can’t be happening, but it is happening and that’s what gives it its’ dimension. In comedy, you never know who you’re playing to, somebody in an audience always says aww, when you make a joke about (Adolph) Hitler,” Vilanch said.

The entire conundrum civil society faces is promulgated by social media, which the writer refers to multiple times as “narcissism central.”

“Social media has given a voice to people who would be in the wilderness, the whole twat—pardon me—tweet culture. Anyone can become headline news and people are articulating stuff they might have never said aloud,” Vilanch elaborated. “It’s sad and certainly not funny.”

Vilanch would like to get off the grid, so to speak, but is frank about his hobbies.

“When doesn’t porn figure into any of that?” he replied. “It’s too late not to be honest. I’ve always been a reader and I’m totally caught up in the arts, reading something, going somewhere, seeing something. I’m not following the NFL, sorry.”

About 150 years ago, he estimates, even before he started working with Midler, Vilanch got his start writing for the Miami Herald. His ties to South Florida are deep: his grandparents had a home on Miami Beach and his mother resided in Boca before her death. Would he consider retiring here, too?

“I’ll have to push some Russian oligarch out of his apartment,” he said with a throaty chuckle.

And what advice would he offer a young Bruce, given the chance (or other young LGBTQ people)?

“I wouldn’t speak to young Bruce he’s not my type,” he said with another laugh. “I’m so old, I was out before you came out. Coming out didn’t happen before Stonewall, and I was a grown person in college when Stonewall happened. I was always sort of out. I was bisexual and realized that what I wanted was a boyfriend. I wouldn’t want a woman who I liked that much to have to deal with me not being exclusively hers. Plus, I was in a field where eccentricity and flamboyance were prized.”

And they still are and Bruce Vilanch still is, luckily for us.

Bruce Vilanch will appear at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, 3385 N.E. 188th St. in Aventura on Friday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $36.50 at AventuraCenter.org.