Members of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra League came up with the next best thing to having Joan Rivers perform at their recent "Women in Comedy" luncheon--they invited look-alike Dee Dee Hanson.
Hanson had Rivers down pat--air-kissing PSO executive director Louis Spisto and other guests, gushing over the ladies' outfits ("Did you order that through QVC?") and mimicking Rivers' trademark seal clap before a crowd of about 200 at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. Guests paid $50 each to attend the luncheon, which netted about $10,000 for the orchestra.
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"Dee Dee is Joan Rivers' favorite impersonator of herself," said Pat Weiss, chairwoman of the luncheon.
As soon as Hanson took the stage, it was easy to see why. Not only did she look and sound the part--down to her raspy, Rivers-like voice--she hit on all of Rivers' favorite topics--shopping, plastic surgery and trashing Hollywood celebrities. Hanson also added a topic of her own: the Orange County bankruptcy.
"There are so many cutbacks in Orange County, they've renamed the airport the 'John Wayne Bobbit,' " she quipped.
Throughout her performance, she literally dragged members of the audience onstage to join her in campy song-and-dance routines. She had Mel Jaffee wear a black feather boa on his head, then added a pair of sunglasses and introduced him as "my dear friend Howard Stern." The likeness was amazing.
Hanson also did impressions of Tina Turner, Carol Burnett and Bette Midler--dancing on stage to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" with Marv Weiss, who accompanied her on a plastic toy bugle.
Far from being miffed at Hanson's routine, Rivers once invited her to appear on her now-defunct talk show.
"At the beginning of the show I sat in her chair, and I introduced her as Cher," Hanson said. "She said, 'Get out of my chair, (expletive).' "
Hanson, a resident of Orange, has parlayed her Rivers resemblance into a one-woman, multiple-personality comedy show.
"I'm in group therapy by myself," she said.
Guests also enjoyed a luncheon of chicken Marsala and chocolate torte with raspberry coulis for dessert, served at tables draped in mint green cloths and adorned with vases of fresh flowers. Models from Nordstrom showed off spring suits and dresses.
League members held their first comedy show last year, and reviews were so favorable they're hoping it will become an annual event.
"Although we call it 'Women in Comedy,' a lot of men like it, too," Pat Weiss said.
Among the guests were Barbara Trainor, league president; Ron Hanson, PSO board president; Jo Ellen Qualls; Margaret Gates; Barbara Johnson; Jim Emmi; Arlene Cheng; Alice Losi; Nancy Sweningsen; Claire Burt; Vesta Curry; Dorothy Edwards; Lynda Gome; Eleanor Gordon; Martha Jennings; Gene and Nadine Leyton; Marcy Mulville; Donald Segretti; Karen Shuerger; Ingrid Shutkin; Linda Sutherland, and Erika Tanklage.