By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
SCAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
Dina's opener, the female sketch comedy group MEAT, was one of the acts lining up to spew obscenities at the Peoples Improv Theater's Aristocontest, where the stage figuratively added 80 to 90 pounds of body fluids. The illustrious event had comics telling their versions of the infamous joke where a family farts and fists and felches onstage, then calls itself the Federlines, I mean the Aristocrats. We were treated to every imaginable variation on the jokeincluding a folk song versionwith the scatological references topically spanning Katrina, 9-11, the Bush family, and "shit coming out like a giant Mister Softee machine." Several comics went on too long, forgetting that less is whore, but all of them were so gamely goofy that by the end there was even some real vomit on the stage. The punchline of the contest? The prize was absolutely nothing. (But here's a free gift to you: Spies tell me The Aristocrats might be bound for Broadwayyou know, the Great Brown Way.)
At the Café Carlyle, amazing ELAINE STRITCH barrels onto the stage in a silver lamé astronaut suit, with red lipstick shockingly . . . No, I got that wrong. Actually, Stritch skips out in a classic uptown lady's black-and-white ensemble, beaming through slap-happy songs like "Yes I Can!" and "I Think I Like You!" A nice Elaine Stritch? The buzz-saw-voiced ex-boozer as Mary Sunshine meets Shirley Partridge in a bright alley with Sammy Davis Jr.? Yeah, kind of, but relax. After what seems like six opening numbers, she goes into her fab acerbic mode and comically vents about "fucking cell phones, fucking taxis, fucking traffic" and fucking so on. She rattles off a list of grudges then rasps out "Why Him?" ("I'd like to put a knife to him/Just to see if there is life to him.") And though she goes soft again by revealing that, given the chance to say something to Dubya, she congratulated him on his sobrietyI guess she hadn't read the Enquirershe then launches into "Dear World," a timeless ditty about the sorry state of international affairs. The act may meander like a deer in the Pines, but the woman has fire and charisma that should be bottled for the ages. Most importantly, it turns out she has what she sings about in her finale"miles and miles and miles of heart."
Miles of sheets welcome another seminal diva, eternal gamine MIA FARROW, back to the stage in JAMES LAPINE's Fran's Bed, which at first seems as synthetic as the effigy of Mia's character that lies in a hospital dying of an overdose. The sitcommy banter and stale references don't enchant, and the tone fails to click until the characters satirically appear in a soap opera scene. (They do better with that than in the more straightforward soap that surrounds it.) But by the end, a haunted poignancy takes over to the point where one's rooting for Franand even her effigyto get the hell out of bed.
WWE ARE FAMILY
That's about as butch a sporting event as I'll cotton to, except for an occasional gander at the WWE gang for the hunk factor and camp appeal. So there I was at the USA Network's power lunch celebrating the return of the wrestling stars with Raw, which is just how I like everything from first dates to carrots. Cordially enough, promoter VINCE MCMAHON greeted the crowd, asking, "Where else can you go to meet larger-than-life individuals?" (Gee, I don't knowthe Cutting Room, the Aristocontest . . . ) Then out came the celebrity grapplers, each giving us a remark or two in lieu of poking our eyes out. There was a misty-eyed "STONE COLD" STEVE AUSTIN ("I remember driving beer trucks and slamming beers on TV!"); the frizzy-haired CARLITO, sporting a tropical shirt and exaggerated Caribbean accent ("I kind of like to theenk of myself as an icon too"); the hulking BIG SHOW ("Where's the buffet?"); and vampy TORRIE WILSON, carrying two fluffy bedroom props and asking, "Who wants to pillow fight?" "Those are some lucky pillows," interjected McMahon, all adrool.
Before the pillows end up smothering someone on Fran's bed, let's have some rapid-fire gossip flashes for the ADD crowd. (I hope they ADD up.) First off, the WORLD OF WONDER's Trans-Generation series, playing on the Sundance Channel, moved audiences of all hormones on a recent college tour, andthis is the real testit's even touched its own been-around-the-block makers. Co-producer RANDY BARBATO tells me, "It's the first time we all made sure we had a box of tissues next to the monitor whenever we watched a rough cut."