Best punk-comedy cabaret act (2008)

Puttin' on the Ritz

For anyone who's torn between thrashing and crooning, rejoice: Puttin' on the Ritz thoughtfully lets you have it both ways. Started in a drunken haze at a friend's party in '04, the band is the creation of drummer Kevin Shea and singer B.J. Rubin, punk fans who happen to love the standards (Shea even studied jazz at one point). Though Rubin hilariously howls through ballads like "The Rainbow Connection," "My Funny Valentine," and "The Girl from Ipanema," he insists that POTR are sincere: "While most bands who do these songs sound dead, we try to explore it more and be off-the-cuff." They rehearse only once or twice a year (Shea plays in several local experimental bands the rest of the time), but they've managed to get a gig opening for hotshot guitarist Marnie Stern and have landed several U.K. shows for the fall. (They've also performed in waist-deep water at Coney Island and at a few other gigs where they were threatened by non-fans.) They're even amenable to recording duets with fellow crooners like Tony Bennett, assuming he'd like to split studio time with them.


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