Elaine Brier: Put Your Funny Where Your Mouth Is

Elaine Brier

Put Your Funny Where Your Mouth Is

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, May 19, 2017

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Elaine Brier

For the three of you unfamiliar with Elaine Brier, let’s bring you up to date. A NYC piano bar singing waitress for 27 years (!), Brier has established herself as a popular (notorious?) staple of the scene. Possessing an irreverent sense of humor (mainly through genius parody lyrics) as well as impeccable comic timing (particularly a brilliant bait-and-switch set-up that kills every time), she is legendary. And, for her first solo cabaret in 13 years (!

), she certainly delivers the funny.

Indeed, the parody lyrics flowed like free liquor, including an apropos “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here” (Charles Strouse/Martin Charnin), a naive come-on to a gay beau in “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Frank Loesser), as well as an ode to Facebook support in “You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole King). These showcase her wacky sensibility and even when a joke falters, Brier’s overwhelming lovability kicks in.

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Perhaps what separates this show from other comedy cabarets is Brier’s uncanny ability to turn on a dime with breathtaking honesty. Simply put, she is wholeheartedly present in the room.

Candid about the struggles of motherhood, work, and relationships, she knocks it out of the park with a devastating “Here Is a Song” (Susan Sheridan).

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Here we get self-effacing humor, but quietly she allows a volatility to creep in, painting a complex woman experiencing a sea of emotions. (Superb.)

 The personnel all should be mentioned: Director Lennie Watts, back-ups from Laura Pavles and Tara Moran (that catatonic back-up choreography!), and, of course, MD and co-writer Nate Buccieri. 

And then there’s Ms. Brier. With a personalized “I’m Still Here” (Stephen Sondheim) she proves why she’s endured: this working-class girl made life her stage and continually found the humor in the mundane. So shut up and tip your “waitress” on the way out.

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.