Magic is in the Air at UnCab

LA Culture Hound review of 3/10/13

Beth Lapides has just returned from a visit to the Magic Castle and thinks magic may be in the air tonight.  It’s hard to disagree.  Inside the magical speakeasy at First and Hope, time bends and conflates and it’s not necessarily due to today’s time change.  Perhaps it’s being in the midst of exceptionally strong talent that allows for time to pass so quickly, or maybe it is magic.  “Tonight we’re going there,” Beth announces.  And away we go!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never seen Julie Goldman before tonight. Definitely my loss.  She burns up the stage with a kind of kinetic Kineson charisma. “I’m gonna start it with a lez bang tonight,” she says and man, does she. You can almost feel the white-hot heat emanating from her as she takes to the stage.  Whether she is riffing on the smug tendencies of people from the Bay Area (“I’m wearing dirt and tampon strings”) or squeegee-ing her mom’s shower, her humor is raucous, volcanic and sweet.  When she picks up the guitar and sings and plays like a rock star, I’m hooked.  Her song Commitment Ceremony is seared into my brain. “You can have your commitment ceremonies in the back of the bus.”
 
It seems everyone is dying in Rebecca Corry’s life, including her 102 year-old grandmother, 42-year-old landlord, a few old dogs, her accountant and a baby bird that fell from the sky and landed right in front of her.  “The women who are going to die alone are led onto the stage,” she says, digging into a story about a wedding bouquet toss where she meets her match:  Jennifer Love Hewitt.  Turns out Rebecca and Jennifer wrestled so competitively for the flower bouquet it split in half, cutting Jennifer Love Hewitt’s hand and forcing her to fall dramatically to the ground.  Just imagining Rebecca Corry holding the mangled bouquet while J Love flails on the floor brings a smile to my face.  She ends her set with a hilarious story about assiduously trying to avoid wiping her young nephew’s butt to which every childless aunt and uncle can probably relate.  When her insistent nephew demands that she wipe his butt, she describes it like this: “You know when you kill a spider?” This girl cracks me up.
Sam Morrow from The Ooks of Hazzard takes to the stage with his guitar and disarming candor. “I don’t normally play at places where my feet don’t stick to the floor when I walk.” Then he adds: “I’m also afraid of comedians.” Ha!  He has an unnerving effect on the women in the room.  You can feel them leaning in, absorbing him deeply.  With a knit hat, scruffy beard and bohemian vibe, he doesn’t at first glance fall into the category of swoon-worthy.  But when he opens his mouth to sing it’s a whole different story.  With swoony lyrics like “You remind me who I was and who I want to be,” sung with growly perfection, who wouldn’t be cast in his spell? 
“I won Best Director in the world,”Jill Soloway wryly tells us. Fresh from her Best Director win at Sundance for her filmAfternoon Delight, she admits that “something was on the back burner while I was at Sundance.” A year ago her father, a 6’4” psychiatrist, interrupted their weekly Sunday morning conversation with a question: “Jilly? Are you sitting down?” She tells a tale that I won’t disclose here, let’s just say that every family has a story and the Soloway story has the good fortune to have an expert storyteller telling it. 
Lauren Weedman, in a sloppy bun, pings and ricochets from one subject to the next.  Her subjects unfurl in steady stream-of-consciousness. Her digressions have digressions, but she has an uncanny knack to always bring it back and rein herself in. Whether she’s discussing the sloshing cosmo in her aging father’s hands or having a social collision with singer Ani DiFranco, she can’t help but be uproariously funny and achingly self-aware.  
Tall and willowy Marcella Detroit (from Shakespeare’s Sister) in an Edith Piaf bob, sings plaintively, “Everyody’s f-cking but me, I just can’t get laid.  My sex life is so gloomy even my dog won’t do me.” A tart soprano with a naughty streak, she sings Good Girl Down (“As in you can’t keep a…”), her first single from her album The Vehicle, which will be released on April 22.  Birthday boy Mitch Kaplan on piano and Denise Fraser on drums tore it up.

If there is one take away from tonight’s edition of UnCabaret, it’s that situations aren’t funny, it’s the people observing them.  What’s funny about wiping your nephew’s butt? Squeegee-ing your mom’s shower? Your aging father drinking a cosmo? Nothing. But when these performers are talking about it?  Everything.  Tonight’s line-up demonstrates that there is power that comes from diving into the stories and feelings that most of us prefer to avoid.  And comic gold. Perhaps Jill Soloway sums up tonight’s theme during her set:  “Good and bad, they go together.”