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Off The Top! With Jason Kravits Is A Tight Rope Walking Act Of High Comedy And Low Music… Or Is That High Music And Low Comedy?

Off The Top! With Jason Kravits Is A Tight Rope Walking Act Of High Comedy And Low Music… Or Is That High Music And Low Comedy?

Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.

Improv im prov | ˈim-ˌpräv adjective: of, relating to, or being improvisation and especially an improvised comedy routine...

Well thank you, Auntie Merriam, and if you understand this basic definition of a very complex performance art form dear ones, then has Bobby got a show for you. Sunday night's performance of OFF THE TOP! WITH Jason Kravits was a comedic, musical tapestry spun by a true pro of improv. Moving his show from The Duplex downtown, Kravits' Birdland premier is sure to be the first of many performances uptown for this unstoppable freight train of funny. Now it is one thing to do standup comedy at a microphone in front of strangers with material that you have written, committed to memory and (hopefully) have worked out enough that the lines land with effortless timing sprinkled with occasional toppings of in-the-moment inspiration or at worst, having to deal with hecklers. Then, of course, there is the particularly quick wit of folk like Paula Poundstone and Jimmy Carr who invite audiences to go 15 rounds of back and forth with them throughout their acts, or the rapturous genius of the late, great Robin Williams whose whole act depended on his warp speed brain to make comedy out of everything unexpected and unplanned for. It is also another kind of art form to dive into the deep end of the comedy pool and work with no net, allowing the club surroundings and circumstances of various types of audience participation to be thrown at you whilst you stand amongst an expert group of improvisational improvisers al la Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, and any other feeders into SNL. But, and this is your big BUT my angels, to make up your musical, broadway, jazz, standards, comedy, stand up, storytelling solo completely improvised cabaret on the spot sounds like multiple attempts at suicide with people watching you while cheering you on. Here's how it worked on the night...

Off The Top! With Jason Kravits Is A Tight Rope Walking Act Of High Comedy And Low Music… Or Is That High Music And Low Comedy?Trouping down the stairs at the front of Birdland Proper, you enter The Birdland Theatre, the new cabaret space BL added last year, and when you are seated at your table you are given a 3x5 form to fill out that will serve as suggestions of "Words To Live By", "An Adjective", "A Short Phrase", etc. Once filled out they go into Kravits fishbowl next to the onstage grand piano; from this, he randomly selects forms, reads a suggestion aloud (could be filling in a song title or something his father/mother/brother told him etc.) and off he goes down a road that leads him he knows not where. Following the established Cabaret structure of taking the audience through stories from his life that have "meaning" and have brought Kravits to where he is today, and singing and talking about it all, Jason jumps headlong down rabbit holes of crazy written selections like "A Thing" - Frisbee or "A Place In The World" - Green Mountains Of Vermont and must deal with what awaits him down that abyss be it a Jazz song composed in the moment with his expert musical trio, or a total blind alley that necessitates drawing a new "Place In The World" or "Last Text You Sent/Received". His musicians perfectly supported Kravits by following his every musical whim. As he cued them by giving them quick hints of a song style and urging them to start playing by handing off rhythms for the drums or giving the old jazz singer snappy count off, the team perfectly collaborated and created, mostly, hilarious compositions. Real comedy, though, comes from real obstacles my dearlings, and one laugh out loud moment was Kravits turning to his Musical Director and saying, "You remember that old song we used to sing don't you?" only to see a shaking head and getting a resounding, "NOPE." Don't worry, they worked it out and made us laugh for reals. Joined on the stage alternately by jazz vocalist Michelle Walker, saxophonist Keith Loftis, and the inimitable broadway baritone, Norm Lewis, Kravits forced his guests to follow him into oncoming traffic the likes of which could have killed them and his act but skirted disaster each time with hilarious results. I mean, there was always another card to be drawn to move them on to a new path my pets.

With songs, lyrics, stories, and characters all made up on the spot! Kravits Musical comedy, improv, was a thrill ride that rivaled anything at Coney Island and for that much fun, we have to give OFF THE TOP WITH Jason Kravits 4 out of 5 Rainbows.


Tweet Jason Kravits on his Tweeter: HERE

And Follow his InstaG: HERE

Birdland's Calendar thingy is: HERE

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From This Author Bobby Patrick