I call it "Cabaret Bootcamp" because I can't take "The Art of Cabaret" too damn seriously or I get a rash.
I remember Erv Raible, who is sort of The Cabaret Godfather in NYC, told us that Jason Robert Brown used to play in Erv's piano bar.
Mr. Brown... or Mr. Robert Brown, whichever it is... is a Tony Award winning composer of such musicals as PARADE, THE LAST FIVE YEARS and song cycles like SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD.
Erv said that when Jason started playing in his club, he would make these strange, twisted faces when he performed. Finally, Erv put a huge mirror on the piano facing Jason and said something like...
"We have to sit here and look at you making those ugly faces.
Now, you do, too!"
Now, you do, too!"
Apparently, it cured Jason of his bad habit.
Now, I know we all have bad habits on stage. After I shaved my head, I had a few people complain that I would run my hand over my head when I sang "as if you're moving your hair out of your eyes." They thought it was distracting.
I told them to fuck off.
I wasn't "pretending to move the hair out of my eyes." Those of you blessed with a full head of hair don't understand that with my shaved head, when I sweat, there is nothing to absorb all that moisture and it slowly begins to trickle down into my face. I'm simply wiping the sweat away. I'm not pretending to flip my Farrah Fawcett- Majors 'doo!
Britney understands what I'm talking about, don't you Brit?
I truly understand physical idiosyncrasies and the last thing I want is for a performer to be self- conscious or to start thinking about what their body is doing.
But this guy... this YouTube wonder who made his television debut on THE VIEW last week... this white kid singing I'M TELLIN' YOU, I'M NOT GOIN' from DREAMGIRLS...
...well, as a little girl said to me after my performance as Shere Khan in THE JUNGLE BOOK last year when I asked her if I was scary or too frightening...
"Nah. You're just silly."
This guy is just silly. Talented? Yes. Has a better career than me at age 20? Definitely! But he's way, friggin' silly.
And let me say this: Is he really that good a singer or is just singing a really great song?
See, I judge this WINDY CITY GAY IDOL competition (my first round I judge this year is at Hydrate this Thursday night at 9pm) and when people ask me what they should sing in the finals, I always say, "I'M TELLIN' YOU, I'M NOT GOIN'" because it always, Always, ALWAYS makes the drunken crowd go bat- shit crazy.
In vaudeville, if you wanted a standing ovation at the end of your act, you sang a patriotic song. Nowadays, if you want to sing on THE VIEW or win an Academy Award, you sing I'M TELLIN YOU', I'M NOT GOIN'.