BOY CULTURE REVIEW: *** out of ****
Ten observations about Judy Tenuta, whose show Full Frontal Tenudity is playing at the Laurie Beechman in NYC tonight:
One of my favorite one-offs was when she said, "Glory, glory hole-ellujah."
(1) She looks the same 25 years after I first heard of her.
(2) Some of her jokes are the same 25 years after I first heard of her...but they're still funny.
(3) She's surprisingly topical, referencing Ke$ha (she even said it as "Ke$ha" and not "Kesha"), Beyoncé, Eliot Spitzer and Chris Christie. "The Love Goddess" was played on to the strains of Selena Gomez & The Scene's "Love You Like a Love Song."
(4) She takes audience participation to a new level; I think I was the only person in the house she didn't drag onstage.
(5) Her impression of Rita Rudner is more delicious than the Beechman's chocolate banana pudding.
(6) She implicitly rips her ex, Emo Phillips (they were married!), a new one with jokes about how it wouldn't take a very long jail sentence to get him to flip to guys.
(7) She marries a gay couple on stage.
(8) She has her hair done by a random gay audience member onstage.
(9) Yes, she recreates her Sarah Palin impersonation.
(10) Madonna's "Hung Up" is one of her jams.
Pole, dancing: The queen of audience participation.
To sum it up, Tenuta is like a female Rip Taylor—her humor is obvious, but is like comfort food. And she is way more clever than her physical humor sometimes is. The woman is totally at ease improvising and nursed guffaws out of lines that might have passed for ordinary conversation without the right delivery.
Judy, Judy, Judy!
After her show, which threatened to overlap with The Vaudevillians (I ran into Jinkx Monsoon, who was in a full-on blonde goddess summer look...just to walk to the theater and then change for her show!) it went on so long (the equivalent of a Big Gulp), Tenuta signed autographs and sold books upstairs. When we met, she embraced me like she knew me and called me adorable and wanted to know if I liked. I liked! I asked her her secret, telling her she looks ageless, and she said it's all about laughter. "Also, I have a wonderful mom. She's in heaven already, though." It was touching in the context of her out-there, anything-for-a-laugh personality, but that's probably why her fans love her—she's rarely mean (one Paris Jackson jibe aside) and clearly has heart.
Check out Judy's book Full Frontal Tenudity.