ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Getting Arty with Joanna Gleason and Hosting a Laugh Riot at the Chatterbox

By Seth Rudetsky
01 Jul 2013

Sandra Bernhard
Photo by Robb Johnston

Also, while the show was being created, "Steve" (Sondheim) phoned and told her he was writing a song for her. He wanted to know if she had any suggestions. First, she turned to her husband and mouthed, "Oh my God!", then she told him what she thinks the Baker's Wife is feeling. She said, "What am I doing here? I'm in the wrong story." That was soon set to music and the rest is history. When the Tony Awards happened, she was nominated but the front-runner was Patti LuPone (for Anything Goes). Joanna said that she was so shocked when her name was called that her head snapped backwards and she literally had whiplash! I asked Patti about that night and she recalled thinking she was "on acid" when she saw Joanna approach the podium. Apparently, Joanna had on an 80's outfit with big shoulders that was made out of metallic material and Patti's first thought was, "The Tin Man stole my Tony!"

At "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox," I interviewed a great trio of comics: Sandra Bernhard, Scott Thompson and Lea DeLaria and, turns out, Joanna Gleason wasn't the only one talking about Beverly Hills last week; Sandra was a manicurist there in the late '70s! She recently had lunch with one of her clients in a posh NYC hotel, and her imitation of the woman complaining about how the hotel has changed was, of course, hilarious. I told Sandra how obsessed I am with the first track from her, Without You, I'm Nothing show where she plays a self-indulgent actress/cabaret singer. I love the section where she recalls being at a party where Sally Kellerman and Kenny Loggins are singing a medley from Porgy and Bess. She sees Andrea Marcoviccii weeping in a corner and, at first, assumes she's been moved by the music.

"Then I remembered, out of the 130 songs she regularly rotates in her own cabaret act, it was one she had somehow overlooked. Then she realizes that Andrea is devastated because it's the one song she's left out of her act." Sandra said she put in that section because she really saw Andrea Marcovici at a party where Sally Kellerman sang! Sandra watched her and thought, "I wonder if she's disappointed she left that song out of her act." At the end of that section in the show, Sandra says, "Her repertoire runs the gamut from everything by Sondheim...to a musical version of The Diary of Anne Frank."

Scott Thompson talked about seeing "The Kids in the Hall" perform in Canada and deciding that he would somehow get in the group. He finally did and soon became the first out gay comic on TV...just like Lea DeLaria. That's right, that argument never quite seemed to be resolved during the interview. Regardless, after "The Kids in the Hall," Scott became very frustrated because, even though he had trained as a classical actor, he was only being sent in for the sassy gay sidekick. Or the supportive best friend, which he demonstrated by saying, "How could he not love you? You're fabulous!"

He got very frustrated/angry/bitter, which he thinks perhaps contributed to him getting cancer a few years ago. It took him a year to treat and a year to recover. But afterwards, he suddenly let go of his frustrations. He said he had a meeting with his agents where he told them that he wasn't going to focus solely on acting anymore...he could write, he could do stand-up and he could write graphic novels. He didn't seem to care as much anymore which he specifically related to his cancer. He said that the treatment had 32 side effects… 31 of them were awful, but one of them was that he no longer gave a sh*t. Of course, after he let go of trying to get an acting job that wasn't just the gay best friend, he got cast in a great role on TV's "Hannibal."

"The Chatterbox" with all three of them is on SethTV.com along with some hilarious episodes of Broadway Game Night. This Thursday I hightail it back to Provincetown for two shows with Sutton Foster at the Art House.

And finally, Unbroken Circle is going so well. After next week, we're adding performances so the show will play Wednesday matinee/night, Thursday night and Sunday matinee! We've gotten so many amazing reader reviews on NYTimes.com, and this was just in the Garden State Journal: "Unbroken Circle will manipulate all your emotions. Your hearty laughter will be short-circuited by an astonishing revelation, and conversely a chuckle will sidetrack your despair and sadness. You will leave the theatre in awe of the story, in love with the characters, and in reflection about your secrets and their ramifications."

And, PS, my delicious discount code is still in effect! Go to BroadwayOffers.com and type in UCSETH.

On that note, happy July and peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)