Calling his Cafe Carlyle show, “Does This Song Make Me Look Fat?” Isaac Mizrahi signals surreal leaps of fancy from music, to looks, to insecurities. Who could ask for more from an evening? Multitalented, the fashion designer/ entertainer croons cabaret standards backed by a great band, his act sprinkled with self-mocking quips recalling Joan Rivers at her most cheeky! Really, what’s not to love?
Tags: Isaac Mizrahi, Ben Waltzer, Benny Benack III, Bernie Taupin, Cafe Carlyle, Cole Porter, Eartha Kitt, Elton John, Jack Segal, Joan Rivers, Joe Strasser, Kander and Ebb, Marvin Fisher, Mary Tyler Moore, Neal Miner, Stefan Schatz
Not sure whether or not Jill Kargman would riff on the Led Zepplin classic “Stairway to Heaven,” I had to admit, the comedienne, creator of Bravo’s Odd Mom Out, and author of Sprinkle Glitter on my Grave brought something different to the Café Carlyle. The set list, for example, featured only eight songs. Kargman is gifted at stand up, weaving songs and stories together into a funny, entertaining evening, spoken from the perspective of an East Side mom at odds with the prevailing ethos. Tales of a Southern nanny named Sue, a Bulgarian make up artist, and a trip to Disneyworld gave new meaning to Jon Bon Jovi/ Richie Sambora’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” the Alice Cooper, Desmond Child, John McCurry hit “Poison,” and Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.”
Now in his twelfth year performing at the Café Carlyle, Steve Tyrell exulted in the packed house and sold out nights for the holidays. No wonder he seemed so comfortable and set the mood with “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “You’d be so Nice to Come Home To.” David Mann on flute brought the comfy mood home, and Tyrell introduced him and “the best band in the world,” including Quinn Johnson on piano, David Finck on bass, Bob Mann on guitar, Kevin Winard on drums and Jon Allen on keyboards, A dozen years is impressive, and the occasion for Tyrell to reminisce about his very first time at the Carlyle, with George Steinbrenner in the house.
Judy Collins ended her set at the Café Carlyle yesterday with Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” a bittersweet homage to the Canadian novelist, composer, and performer—as it turned out. Of course “Suzanne,” from her 1966 album In My Life, is a standard part of her repertoire; it was only after her opening night that guests learned of Leonard Cohen’s death at 82, and looking back, this encore had special resonance.
Fans who loved Ana Gasteyer’s Saturday Night Live teacher trip with Will Farrell will find her cabaret show at the Café Carlyle a reminder, it’s just acting, or maybe just acting out. In the intimacy of this premiere supper club, located, as Gasteyer redubbed the neighborhood SoDal, that is South of Dalton, invoking the city’s most famous prep school, you know this funny woman, --remarking “It’s very fancy up here,” --is going to violate something sacred. That may be a response to her mother’s judging she’s developed into a “handsome woman,” whatever that means, and so she explains her act: “I’ll be working out my issues with you.”
Broadway diva is one name for Christine Ebersole, and at her sublime performance in the intimacy of the Café Carlyle, call her “working mom.” Her medley of “Inchworm,” “Autumn Leaves,” “(Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair” suggests a big-hearted view of love that could embrace children. She has three, adopted, and now finds herself an empty nester. Five years since her last run at the Carlyle, she’s looking for renewal, including in the mirror in the mash up of “Look at that Face/ What Did You Do to Your Face” which adds extra meaning to the Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern classic, “The Way You Look Tonight.”
With more than a wink, the poised Laura Benanti portrays herself as a child show tune nerd recounting highlights from her stellar career with comedic flair. You could say this Tony Award winner’s show at the Café Carlyle, Tales from Soprano Isle, glimpses her life backwards: songs from her recent hit musical, She Loves Me, to her very first Broadway role as Maria in The Sound of Music. And after introducing her accompanists, music director Todd Almond and bass player, Brian Ellingson, including the “drummer girl” she is carrying—yes, she was big with child under her red sheath (in case you didn’t notice), Benanti pays homage to her music teacher mom, to Harry Chapin, Joni Mitchell, and Tori Amos, with ample anecdotes, including a wild night of double vodkas with Patti Lupone.
The name Carolines is synonymous with comedy. All year, Caroline Hirsch produces shows at her club Carolines on Broadway, several comedy festivals and some one-off shows such as her upcoming evening Carolines @ The Beach at Guild Hall on August 5. On a recent Friday, I caught up with Caroline by phone, en route to her home in Watermill. She stops at Exit 70 for phone meetings, at a parking lot where this doyenne of laughs knows there’s a good signal.
Funny woman Sandra Bernhard joins this week’s list of funny women performing at Guild Hall. There was Kathy Griffin, and if you count the many personae of Charles Busch, this Friday night makes the third for her show titled, “Feel the Bernhard.” A few days before, Sandy interrupted her viewing of Venus Williams’ tennis match at Wimbleton—“She’s winning!” –to talk about what she’s bringing to the stage at the beach.