It's so warm! No, not the weather outside, the fire we have lit in our apartment. Yes, it's the end of March and we have to light a fire. And we don't even have a fireplace! Anybody? That's right, I'm starting with a little Borscht Belt humor. Emphasis on "little." Of course, it actually was warm in New Orleans over the weekend and that's where I was. So beautiful! I was down there for my Broadway@ series at Nocca and I did a show with the hilarious/high-belting Ana Gasteyer. During the afternoon, Mark Cortale, my good friend and the producer, took us out to a fantastic restaurant. However, the waitress tried to entice us to order the fish and it decidedly did not work:
ME: What's the fish of the day?
WAITRESS: Well…you know that fish that has two really long teeth?
MARK: Um…no, we don't.
WAITRESS: It has the flat head, it's a bottom feeder and it has two really long incisors hanging out of its mouth.
SETH: Um…I guess.
WAITRESS: Well, that's the fish. And it's sautéed.
We decided to not order the vampire/garbage eater fish and ate other deliciousness instead. During lunch, we asked Ana about the "Saturday Night Live" 40th anniversary that just aired. Ana had an amazing time and loved doing the middle school music teachers with Will Ferrell. However, this time the music director was Marc Shaiman and preparing for it was completely different. Usually, "SNL" is a very last-minute, anything-goes type atmosphere. The cast doesn't even neccesarily know what's going to be on the show. Ana explained that you could be standing in your sheep costume during the commercial break waiting to go on, and someone will walk by and yell, "The sheep sketch is cut!" So, it was shocking to them when Marc contacted them many days before the show and sent a rehearsal tape with the accompaniment and each of their vocal parts individually recorded.
It was so helpful, but they were both like "What's this?" because it had never happened before. That particular sketch began based on a real-life event; Ana said that back in the '90's all of her friends were getting married and she was asked to sing at a lot of weddings. Often times, they asked her to sing songs that just didn't work with her voice. What finally did it was when she was asked to sing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." And the guy accompanying her used a Casio keyboard. No matter what key Ana sang it in, it sounded crazily inappropriate.
She was complaining about it with a friend who was in The Groundlings with her (an improv group in L.A.) and they turned it into a sketch about aunts at weddings singing pop songs. She and Will then turned the characters into Marty and Bobbi Mohan-Culp. They did it a few times on the show, but it wasn't necessarily a big hit. Then, one week in December 1997, the "cold open" didn't work (that's the sketch right at the beginning that leads into "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!") and they needed a sketch with a Christmas theme. Helen Hunt suggested they take the middle school music teachers sketch from the middle of the show and use it as the cold open. Once it aired in that position, the characters became beloved. Here is Ana and Will at the 40th. Ana's about to be in the upcoming "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" film and she told us that she begged the powers-that-be to give her character a first name. We were laughing that having no last name is akin to being listed as "Lady on escalator" and she claims that she asked them to give her a last name "for the sake of my dignity on IMDB.com." Sadly, her pleading went on deaf ears and she is listed solely as "Mrs. Gundermutt."
It was Ana's first time in New Orleans, and she loved it. She wanted to stay all of Sunday after her show and enjoy more of the city but she took a super early flight back? Why? Well, a few weeks ago, her husband told her that his friend had one extra ticket to Hamilton for the Sunday matinee. He asked if Ana wanted it. Ana was crazily excited and said yes immediately. Then she realized she had a late afternoon flight back to New York. She told her husband she would change her flight. It wound up costing $250 but it was worth it because Hamilton tix are impossible to come by. Well, a few days ago, she mentioned Hamilton to her husband and he seemed confused. She reminded him about the ticket he got her. To Hamilton. The show. Silence. She reminded him they had texted back and forth about whether she should switch her plane ticket and they finally decided she should. For $250. He finally remembered what she was referring to…and also remembered that he never got the ticket. And it was too late to get it. So, in conclusion, she didn't get to enjoy New Orleans on a Sunday. But she did get to spend $250 on a really early flight back to New York to not see Hamilton. PS, Ana was part of my "Obsessed Live!" talk show with Megan Hilty and Ramin Karimloo and she sounds amazing. Literally belts (and sustains) an F with vibrato! Watch.
Ramin Karimloo, Megan Hilty and Ana Gasteyer Get "Obsessed!" With Seth Rudetsky at Special Live Taping
Speaking of Hamilton, I had a classmate of Lin-Manuel Miranda on "Seth Speaks" this week. Lin went to Hunter High School with Una Lamarche and had a preview copy of her book a month ago which I became obsessed with. It finally came out, and it's a collection of hilarious essays called "Unabrow" and, as the title suggests, the first essay deals with her childhood unibrow. For some reason, she didn't know you could tweeze your eyebrows when she was a kid so she suffered with a unibrow for years. Finally, when she was a teen, she plucked her unibrow and it went away. However, for some reason, she didn't want to admit to anyone at school that she had done anything to her eyebrows. Whenever a kid asked her, "Did you pluck your eyebrows?" she refused to say yes. Instead, she told the kid that she was cutting her bangs and "missed."
When I read that, I couldn't stop laughing. First of all, how can scissors that are big enough to trim bangs also cut eyebrows? And how can one supposed "miss" magically trim an entire area of unibrow? And, the biggest giveaway that she was lying about cutting her bangs is the fact that she had no bangs. Una also has an amazing chapter on how her body has changed now that she is in her 30's. She claims that she woke up one day and realized that she no longer has a butt. It literally just left. She adds that it seems that her boobs also wanted to leave, but quit once they had traveled halfway down her body. She was so thrown by her new shape that she typed "butt disappeared" into her Google search bar. It was one phrase in a long line of embarrassing things she has subjected her search bar to… including "Outside of cheese wheel edible?"
This week we got to see our kid Juli play Penelope Pennywise in her middle school production of Urinetown. Of course, I was a nervous wreck for her. But she did a great job! She hit all the crazy high Nancy Opel notes and got an amazing laugh on the Act Two reveal:
PENNYWISE: She…she is my daughter!
PENNYWISE: And I…I am her mother!
CROWD: Bigger gasp!
Speaking of Nancy Opel and her amazing voice, I had Tony Danza on my "Chatterbox." They're both starring in Honeymoon in Vegas and he was commenting on her solid her voice is. As a matter of fact, one day the cast started freaking out because they heard her warming up. It was such a rare occurrence that they thought something was terribly wrong. She's totally fine and if you've never heard Nancy's amazing belt or heard her hilarious Evita story, watch the "Obsessed" I did with her.
My book, "Seth's Broadway Diary" is a collection of my Playbill columns and it's available in paperback and Kindle! So, get thee to Amazon so I can increase my ranking. That's right...why should I work on a new book when I can keep obsessively clicking the "refresh" button on my Amazon page?
Let me close by saying, I cannot stop watching Sean Hayes and his husband Scotty Icenogle lipsynching Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Hudson. So good, funny and joyous! I told Sean that I especially love that he used a phone prop in the second verse because her voice changes. He asked me "Who uses a phone with a cord anymore?" Of course, I so live in the past, I didn't even find that odd! Watch 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.)