Interview: Christine Lavin Is Seriously Funny in APRIL FOOLS at Birdland

Lavin and her coterie of funny pals present an unforgettable night of musical comedy April 2nd.

By: Mar. 27, 2024
Interview: Christine Lavin Is Seriously Funny in APRIL FOOLS at Birdland
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Singer Christine Lavin is known for bringing the funny, and that's exactly what she's planning to do at Birdland on April 2nd. Lavin, Julie Gold, and their coterie of funny pals are teaming up to present an unforgettable night of musical comedy in their annual April Fool's show. Tickets are available here. I spoke with Lavin about the upcoming show and the serious business of comedic songwriting.

How are you feeling about this year's April Fool's show?

Very good. Recently I was part of the brand new “Sunday Songwriting Circle” at a rehearsal space on West 72nd Street spearheaded by singer/songwriter D.C. Anderson, and including a passel of his talented pals: Gene Mueller, Andre CatriniCarlyn ConnollyBeth Falcone and Ritt Henn.  

I sang them a brand-new song that I plan on doing in the April Fools show. One of the great things about living in NYC is having seasoned theater pros to kick around ideas with. I got great feedback yesterday – my song is stronger now, thanks to all of them.  

Whose idea was it to do this show originally? What's the story behind it?

It was Robin Batteau's idea. He is one of the most creative, brilliant musicians I have the good fortune of knowing. Years ago (1990s) I had a "Sunday Breakfast" radio show on Fordham radio, WFUV, and Robin called me up with an idea he came up with (that nothing has happened with -- so run with this if it appeals to you!).  His idea was to debut brand new songs every week and call it, "Breakfast Epiphanies." 

He is one of the most prolific jingle singers and writers the industry has ever known, so when he comes up with an idea, everybody listens.  When Robin thought up a show called, "April Fools," we all – Julie Gold, John Forster, Robin's musical partner David Buskin, and me – said, "We are IN!

It will be the first time David Buskin and Robin Batteau are playing the Birdland Theater. They alone are worth the price of admission – so you'll get the rest of us as a bonus. Julie Gold has a Grammy for her song "From A Distance" that won "Song of the Year." David Buskin has his finger on the pulse of the aging decrepit fools we are all turning into. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll drink. Then laugh some more.

You're such a funny performer and songwriter, but you also write such haunting, serious songs – "The Dakota," for example. Do you ever feel like you get pigeonholed?

If people know my name at all it's my funny stuff, but I have learned that it's the serious songs that stay with audiences long after the show is over. I'm always telling singers, "If you need special material and I haven't written it, I WILL know the songwriter who has what you are looking for." I like nothing better than to connect a great singer with a great songwriter. And it goes without saying that I do it for the good of all – I never insert myself into the finances or credits. And if the songwriter and singer form a bond that doesn't include me – I love that, too.

How do you feel, in general, about the public perception towards comedy? Do you think that humorous songs are less respected than more serious ones?

Most humorous songs don't have the shelf life that serious songs do – except for John Forster's. His songs are so deeply clever that no one ever tires of hearing them. Jim Caruso is perhaps the finest interpreter of John's songs, like "Tone Deaf," that slays audiences every time. Though Sidney Myer's version of John's song "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Lost" is giving Jim a run for his money. 

Perhaps John Forster's best-known work is "Entering Marion" that is already a modern-day standard. He's the only songwriter I know who has an actual quote from the master of clever, Tom Lehrer, who said, "You don't need me anymore. Now you've got John Forster to kick around."

What's coming up next for you? 

A playwright named Alice Scovell has a brand-new play, "InunDATED," that has nine songs of mine in it. So far there have been two readings under the umbrella of the York Theatre -- the incandescent Sierra Boggess sang my songs about the craziness of dating, and the screamingly funny Josh Grisetti played the parts of all the men trying to win her hand.  Whip-smart Christine Pedi directed it, with the extremely versatile Beth Falcone as MD. It's just making its way into the world.  I'm also finishing up my 26th solo album, trying to write a song about the movie The Blob 

Just this week I did a benefit concert for the Philadelphia Folk Festival at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville where a scene in The Blob was filmed – it's where it eats a whole bunch of hysterical teenagers – but my song also mentions Shorty Yeaworth, the film's producer.  He meant "The Blob" to also represent Communism, plus he made films about how God and religion could put teenagers on the best path. This is a tough song to write, but once it's done and I record it, the album will be done. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I moved to NYC many years ago to try to make it as a singer/songwriter -- but I've become such a theater geek, astonished at how many multi-talented performers there are who can take songs like mine to places I can only dream about.  I'm at a stage in my career where I want to get the best songs to the best singers whether they are my songs or songs by people I know that the theater world doesn't.  If you are one of these theater people, please put me on your digital rolodex. Visit me at christinelavin.com  -- I will never waste your time. 

Or come to the Birdland Theater on April 2nd and hear Julie Gold, Buskin & Batteau, and John Forster, too. You will thank me in the morning.

Interview: Christine Lavin Is Seriously Funny in APRIL FOOLS at Birdland




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