Interview: Bruce Vilanch
BY JONATHANWARMAN â€“ JANUARY 8, 2011
POSTED IN: EDITORIAL, ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES, SATIRE, THEATRE, TELEVISION
Bruce Vilanch will be playing two nights, January 11 & 12, at Feinsteinâ€™s at the Regency in his new one-man show â€œWriter on the Vergeâ€. We thought weâ€™d call him up to see what the showâ€™s all about. Even as he picked up the phone, he was already chuckling and cracking wise: â€œIs this the Gay Socialite? Any questions? Fire away!â€
So, is â€œWriter on the Vergeâ€ all-new?
It is! Itâ€™s been a a long time since Iâ€™ve done anything in New York. When Iâ€™m in the city I tend to do benefits galore and emcee things. So Iâ€™m pretty sure all my material will be new to the city. I havenâ€™t done a real show in New York for 10 years unless Iâ€™m forgetting something. I was at Westbeth for three months but that was almost 11 years ago. There have been many more Oscar broadcasts since then and many more things to tell stories about.
Youâ€™re going to be play Feinsteinâ€™s; will there be any singing?
I donâ€™t think so; if I get the piano player of my dreams, I will sing, Iâ€™ve got some material. But to be there and to sing, to stand there in the shadow of so many incredible singers, just because itâ€™s a cabaretâ€¦I donâ€™t think when Jackie Mason played there he broke into song.
No, nor Joan Collins, and her show was terrific.
[Laughs.] She didnâ€™t? I thought that was the whole idea. So she just told stories, right? Thatâ€™s interesting too, and of course my life is so much more glamorous than hers. [Laughs.]
Yeah, Mitzi Gaynor sang a couple songs, but her show was also mostly stories.
In the ballroom, right? Thatâ€™s the big time. Iâ€™m in the cabaret, where Iâ€™ve been a regular, which I actually love. I worked with Mitzi recently, when she was coming out of her shell â€” if you can ever believe she was in one. We did an on-stage Q&A in San Francisco, and of course what I learned is you ask Mitzi one question and she goes into material from her act, of which there is no shortage. Itâ€™s hysterical and wonderful. I think getting back out there and doing that stuff encouraged her to do a regular evening.
What do you think of the state of gayâ€™s in todayâ€™s comedy?
I think we rule! Itâ€™s ironic on TV certainly the big hit is Modern Family and because of Modern Family there are half a dozen shows in the hopper for next year about â€œblendedâ€ families of different kinds and they all have a gay element in them. So success breeds a lot â€” this is the logical extension of Will & Grace and Ellen DeGeneres. In television thereâ€™s quite a lot of it. In general I think weâ€™re going through a transitional period. Now that weâ€™re visible, weâ€™re showing different textures, a character isnâ€™t just a gay character. Heâ€™s not in the script because heâ€™s gay, writers are now being given freedom to discover layers in gay characters.
And you are acting in a new gay themed film comedy Oy Vey My Son is Gay.
Which is opening Friday in Miami. Miami Beach at last! Iâ€™m in Tampa right now and Iâ€™m going to go down there for the â€œgalaâ€ opening, â€œgalaâ€ thatâ€™s hysterical. Itâ€™s been released â€œon a platform,â€ opening in different markets one after the other. Itâ€™s been opening around the country on different dates. Thatâ€™s a fun thing because you get reviewed at least once a week by some new person in another newspaper. Itâ€™s like the death of a thousand cuts. [Laughs.] But itâ€™s a very funny movie, an old school comedy, about the older generation getting hit by a trifecta: their sons are gay, getting married and adopting a baby. What makes it so funny is the older Jewish parents are played by Lainie Kazan and Saul Rubinek, with Carmen Electra as â€œthe beard next door,â€ and the cast just goes on like that.
For tickets, click here.
For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen.