19 August 2008

It's time to shake things up around here. Burlesque is not just about the ladies ... well, the important parts are ... but there are some dudes on the scene as well. So fasten your seat belts, because you're about to meet ...


photo by Chris Beyond, swiped from Gary's MySpace site.

(hint: he's the one in the middle.)

Gary Shapiro is a nut. Fortunately, Gary is in one of the few fields where calling someone a "nut" is a compliment. If you recall from the last one of these things, the first L.A. burlesque show I attended was Victory Variety Hour's Super Nova a-go-go, which was hosted by Msr. Shapiro. That night, he set the bar for what I expect from a burlesque host.

Because, you see, Gary Shapiro is also a comic genius. His sense of humor is pointedly dark at times, and he gets away with saying the most horrible things. His delivery is such that you know that he knows what he's doing. So there's safety with Gary, even when he's careening dangerously around taboo subjects. That safety creates the space in which we laugh.

But enough dry, logical analysis. Let's watch a video. This is definitely not safe for work:

Another thing about Gary -- and this is just delightful -- for me he recalls the great Jewish comics of the past. There's a showmanship there that reminds me of those guys: Jack Benny, George Burns, Jackie Mason, Jerry Lewis, et al. There is a richness of American culture that we are missing in this day and age. I mentioned something about this when I wrote about Lili VonSchtupp back in June. There's a classiness about Gary, a professionalism that elevates his strictly-for-adults comedy to the level of art. When I say Gary reminds me of the greats, that's what I mean.

Gary Shapiro can typically be found hosting Victory Variety Hour at the El Cid, unless you're a process server, in which case I hear Gary moved to the Caymans. So good luck with that. You can read his bio and see a picture of his son at Burlesque411.com, or read his insightful and ponderously philosophic blog on MySpace. But you should really catch his act live!

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