When my feeble brain put together that my friend Steve’s suggestion to come along to his friend’s gig at Feinstein’s (“with Madame“) would take me down 1970s television “comedy special” memory lane, I was at first aghast. Then intrigued. I was excited to see my pal Steve in my new hometown during his visit, and thrilled finally to experience a performance at this now fabled cabaret venue. Sure, I have always expected that I’d be venturing to Feinstein’s to see Michael himself, or Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch, or Chita Rivera, or any of a score of similar acts I’ve seen advertised over the years of this venue’s existence. I take the opportunities as they present themselves. My introduction to the experience of this nightclub is instead puppetry and off-color jokes and boas and tiny evening gowns (on the puppet! on the puppet!).
My expectations were fulfilled. Tunes by Madame and her accompanist / sidekick (I admit I didn’t get his name and we watched him at the keyboard from his back during the performance) included “I’m the oldest living showgirl in Las Vegas”, numerous Garland shout outs (from references to munchkins to a Madame-esque “Born in a Trunk” medley), numerous Liza references (Cabaret intro music, image from Studio 54, image from the Minnelli-Gest wedding), and bad bawdy jokes that Madame’s over-the-top delivery makes, well, work. Often. The act is what I recalled from 40 years ago, with the extra blue content not allowed on the network television shows I dimly remember.
on a host of the game show The Hollywood Squares on which Madame appeared in the 1970s: “Peter Marshall – sounds like a bouncer in a gay bar.”
a riff on a Las Vegas tourism tagline: “What happens in Madame stays in Madame.”
on “fiancée” … that Madame pronounces “fee-an-cee”: “fiancée — that’s French for the man I’m f**king now ..”
on her partner’s often cluelessness about the female anatomy: “You know how sex is .. it’s like real estate. Location, location, location.”
“Give me a martini in a tall glass. I hate to bend over.”
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