Absinthe at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Absinthe – an uneasy cross between terrific variety acts and a stag party – takes place near the entrance to Caesars Palace Hotel, in a 600-seat tent; it’s an in-the-round venue that brings viewers close in to the acts (and, for better or worse, to the X-rated humor as well).

There is a loud, abrasive, and obscene in-your-face master of ceremonies (whose name I didn’t catch), raunchily assisted by his female sidekick Penny Pibbets. Between the two they leave no scatological words or images unexamined. But, to be sure, this isn’t edgy humor with a satirical or social sting, a la Lenny Bruce or George Carlin; oh no, it’s raw stuff for its own sake, and one’s reaction is totally a matter of taste…or the lack thereof. (The oddest act comes from Angel Porrino, a barely clad young lady who does bizarre and amusing things with an inflated balloon.)

There is no hypocrisy in Absinthe: the show revels in its relentless scatology and wears its vulgarity like a badge of honor. Let the record show that the large audience whooped and hollered through the entire evening. Said audience was composed largely of 20- and 30-somethings, male and female, and sounding very well-served alcoholically. That’s clearly the target demographic, so if it fits your profile, enjoy!

Absinthe has become one of the most popular (and lowest priced) shows on the Vegas Strip. The extremism of the master of ceremonies and Ms. Pibbets may induce discomfort, or it may carry the audience on a “What the heck, this is Las Vegas” high. But beware: for some viewers, much of Absinthe will be inevitably and thoroughly cringe-inducing.

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