Monday, April 13, 2015

Applause! Applause! Review of Joan Jaffe: Sings Funnier Than Ever at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre in the Abingdon Theatre Complex by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of “Joan Jaffe: Sings Funnier Than Ever" at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre in the Abingdon Theatre Complex was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Joan Jaffe: Sings Funnier Than Ever
Written, Directed & Performed by Joan Jaffe
Musical Director: Matt Baker
Bass: Adam Kabak
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre
Abingdon Theatre Complex (312 West 36th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/12/15 at 7:00 p.m.

Joan Jaffe won the 2012 MAC Award for Best Musical Comedy Performer for her show Joan Jaffe's MAN-ha-ha-ha-TAN. She also has a long resume detailing her work as an actor in film, television and in the theatre. She appeared on Broadway in the role of Ursula in Much Ado About Nothing and as Gypsy in Bajour. She considers herself an actress, singer, dancer and comedienne, Joan has been quoted as saying she thinks she "must have been in Vaudeville" in a prior life. She also reports that even as a young dancer, she wanted to do comedy. "My father owned a drugstore and I was always going in there and reading the joke books and magazines," she said. "And I'd watch television and write down all the jokes." I believe her because the jokes she is using in her current show date back to the 1940s and 1950s, if not Vaudeville, and some are, in fact, older than Methuselah.

"I am so old that when I was young, we didn't have cell phones. We had two tin cans and a string." Such buried treasure is literally followed by her, Matt Baker and Adam Kabak squeezing three rubber chickens, ringing cow bells and blowing Harpo Marx-style horns! "I am so old that when I was young, we didn't have calculators. We counted on our fingers and toes - and all the little boys could count to twenty-one!" "I'm so old my back goes out more than I do." It doesn't stop there. Joan continues, "I called my first car 'flattery' because it got me nowhere" and "I know my cats are not my children. They are my roommates and they let me live in their apartment." Even her puns were extremely weak. She promised the audience she would be "embracing technology soon and will get an I-Pod, an I-Pad, an I-Phone, and an I-Rack," but she's afraid the latter will keep falling down on top of her.  

Joan Jaffe sang twelve songs that were not particularly humorous finishing with parody lyrics for the song "Memory" from the musical Cats. The parody lyrics made fun of older people losing their memories. I don't know if there is a line here about making fun of people with dementia but it turned out to be quite ironic since Joan Jaffe forgot the lyrics to "Talk To The Animals," "Nobody Loves A Fairy When She's Forty," and "Bagel & Lox" needing to be prompted by Matt Baker, her extremely talented Musical Director. The highlight of the show was a musical duet performed by Matt Baker and Adam Kabak during a costume change. The enthusiastic applause received by this duo was in sharp contrast to the tepid applause received by Joan Jaffe that would momentarily jolt the few audience members who decided to use this show as a much needed opportunity to catch up on some sleep.

Joan Jaffe: Sings Funnier Than Ever needs to be reconceived and rewritten from scratch. It needs a better selection of funny songs, new jokes, more clever patter and a forum that can better highlight Ms. Jaffe's rather weak vocal instrument. Matt Baker and Adam Kabak are consummate professionals and I look forward to seeing them perform in other venues. Jon Peterson is listed as a Consultant in the program. I mention him only so that he gets whatever blame he deserves for his part in putting the show together. For more information about Joan Jaffe, visit her website at: 

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