Friday, May 4, 2012

Martha and Me

It's raining men!Hallelujah, it's raining men... Amen!

--The Weather Girls

Tonight I open for Martha Wash at Joe's Pub -- one the most prestigious gigs I've had in some time. For the uninitiated (read: heterosexual) among you, Martha was one half of the Weather Girls, who sang the gay anthem quoted above. She also provided the lead vocals for C + C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and some of Black Box's biggest hits, including "Everybody, Everybody," which was actually my coming-out song. More on that later. Martha later went on to have a solo career.

You go, Ms. Martha!

I am incredibly excited, but also nervous as shit. Opening for a hugely famous and/or legendary performer is a tricky business. (And I should know, having opened for both Roseanne and Jennifer Coolidge.) On the one hand, nobody's there to see me. In a sense, it doesn't even matter how my set goes, because I'm only the amuse-bouche, sent out on-stage to tickle the crowd's appetite for the main course.

Jennifer and me at Comix in 2010.

Roseanne and me at Comix in 2007.

On the other hand, I consider it a great honor to be asked to perform with people of this stature, and it's also a showcase of sorts for any industry people who might be watching and could potentially offer me future work. I want to do my absolute best.

Or, to paraphrase RuPaul, I don't want to fuck it up.

As luck would have it, I have a rather lengthy coming out story that tangentially involves the song "Everybody, Everybody." And I expect the crowd to be at least 50 percent gay men. So I've decided to use that story -- edited down and with the Martha Wash angle played up -- as the bulk of my set.

It's a risky proposition, basing most of one's set on a single story. Kind of an all-or-nothing gamble, actually. Because if I were to get up and just do a standard comedy set, sprinkling lots of little jokes throughout, the odds are enough of them would land to qualify it as a "good" set. Whereas when you spend eight or ten minutes on a single story, and (God forbid) the crowd's not with you... you're fucked. But when I first started thinking about this gig, this is how I saw it going down in my head. So I'm going to trust my instincts. (Also, I've performed the story twice so far, and both times the reaction has been outstanding. It's my most "liked" video on YouTube. And even though it's a single narrative, there are a lot of little laugh lines built into it.)

And now, since nobody has asked, here's my take on the current season of "American Idol."

This has been an odd season for me in that I've watched every single episode and yet still feel utterly disengaged. Maybe I'm just too old to care anymore, but honestly -- does it really matter who wins? When was the last time we heard from Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, or any of the other winners aside from Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood? They're all pretty absent from today's pop culture landscape.

That said, the talent this season is off the charts, isn't it? I feel like any one of the people remaining -- skinny teen whore Jessica, closeted gospel gay Joshua, perennially constipated Phillip, improbably accented Hollie and the just-booted Sky-Lab -- could have been the American Idol in past seasons. I can't decide whom to root for, although if you held a gun to my head, I suppose it should come down to Jessica and Joshua. (And really, I've grown tired of Phillip's shtick, though I wouldn't mind seeing his stick.)

Nobody should ever make this face.

Much has been made recently of the fact that none of the three judges seems willing or able to offer any real criticism of the singers, leaving all of the heavy lifting to turkey-faced Jimmy Iovine. Frankly, I think the show would do well to trash all three of them and just make Jimmy the single judge, perhaps with a rotating stable of celebrity singers.

Also, Ryan Seacrest has to stop pretending he's straight. Girl, as Martha Wash would say, "Have we got news for you!"

Wish me luck tonight.

Homo washed. 


amy S. said...

how did it go with martha?

Rebecca Olgeirson said...

Hope the gig went well!