LA CULTURE HOUND

Two Zappas and a Chong at UnCabaret

by Jon Bernstein

LA Culture Hound checked out UnCabaret at First and Hope on Sunday night.  Every time we go we are amazed by the talent Beth Lapides gets.  Week after week she assembles a veritable who’s who of LA talent.  This week two Zappas and a Chong were on the line-up, along with Jackie Keshian and Merrill Markoe, stepping out of their comfort zones and letting loose.  That’s what’s so great about these Sunday nights;  you’re not seeing a tired old set from a hacky stand-up, you’re getting smart, dynamic, interesting performers pushing the envelope and testing boundaries.  These nights crackle with electricity, and the people that attend are often just as dynamic as the performers on stage.  (We spotted a few celebs in Sunday night’s audience, and last month, we kid you not, Olivia Newton-John was in the house and her cell phone rang;  it was John Travolta.)  Beth always opens the show with superstars Mitch Kaplan at piano and Denise Fraser at drums.  Her warmth and wit and willingness to “go there” sets the edgy, often confessional, frequently raucous, always fun tone.  Beth never plays it safe, and neither do any of the performers.  This ain’t your grandmother’s cabaret.  Moon and Diva exhibited singular originality singing a funny little ditty we still can’t get out of our heads, Rae Dawn Chong lit up the stage with her charisma as she told a bawdy tale with understated class and elegance and we hope Merrill Markoe’s story becomes a book, because we’re hooked.  If you haven’t been to UnCabaret at First and Hope you are overdue.