The tribulations of Broadway stardom — well, near-stardom, anyway — are the subject of Jackie Hoffman’s endearingly bitter, explosively funny new solo show at Joe’s Pub. Currently doing eight perfs a week in “Hairspray,” Hoffman is taking to the stage on her night off for the next couple of months to bitch about what a drag it is to be in the “hit of the century.” Clearly, this is a world-class kvetch. Attention must be paid!
Hoffman, who plays a trio of roles in the hit musical — “the dykey housewife, the dykey gym teacher and the dykey prison ma-tron,” as she put it — admits right off that her prior career has not included much experience in long-running shows. Who knew how boring it could be, she screeches at the top of the night, and doesn’t stop screeching for an hour or so.
Fortunately, Hoffman is even more funny than she is irritated, and this “rubber-faced” comedian is fearless when it comes to her material. Right off the bat she admits to detesting kids (“I’m a child hater in a family musical!” she wails). Hoffman puts her hair in pigtails to sing an uproarious version of “I’m Still Here,” with clever new lyrics written from the point of view of a jaded child actor.
Hoffman is equally amusing on the subject of another downside of Broadway success few would have the nerve to complain about: The endless round of charity events performers are required to attend or perform at. The rubber face gets a workout as she skewers Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore doing pitches for pet adoptions. Concluding her rant, she giddily cheers, “The best thing is nobody will benefit from this evening except me!”
Hoffman laments the passing of “the fabulous fags” from her audiences as the “Hairspray” run goes on. To her horror, she’s now playing to Christians from Montana. But she’s not too happy about what “the gays” are up to these days either — having kids, just like Christians from Montana!
Sorry-grateful as she is to be getting a regular paycheck for her own “three minutes on Broadway,” as she sings in a smart ditty with music by musical director Dave Brunetti, Hoffman is kept humble by her mother, a doomsayer who does not exactly do won-ders for the self-esteem. When Hoffman tells her about her Joe’s Pub gig, her mother darkly asks, “Is everyone off on Mon-day nights?”
Humbling, too, are the strange ways of business on “the Broadway.” Turns out this Jewish girl with a hit show to her name couldn’t even get an audition — not even an audition! — for the new revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” It’s our loss, too — I’d love to hear from her after a year in that musical.