Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders Variety Show

Last night I went to John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders Variety Show (woo, there's a mouthful) at Le Poisson Rouge. Apparently it is soon going to be Wes and Eugene's Cabinet of Wonders, as Eugene Mirman is hopping on board to run it with him. That can only be good news because Eugene Mirman was the best part of the show.

John Wesley Harding is a charismatic MC, but I have to say the show left me rather bored. The three things I liked were:
1. Eugene Mirman. He's freaking hilarious. His part felt so short though, I wanted to hear more from him. My favorite quote from the evening: "Religion isn't a leap of faith, it's high functioning autism."
2. Roseanne Cash (Johnny Cash's daughter) , reading a bit from her soon to be published memoirs. I found her reflections on being the daughter of a legend fascinating. Then she performed, and I could definitely see the influence of her father in her own work.
3. Colson Whitehead - a MacArther Genius Grant recipient - reading something I can't remember the title of. Haha. Oops. It was actually pretty funny, and I liked his style of reading. It was written from the perspective of a guy talking to his friend, telling him to be less of a downer. And unlike most everything else in the show, it was just the right length. Not too short, not too long.

The other thing I will say I really liked was the variety show format and the fact that there was always something going on up on stage. There wasn't any of this half hour or so wait in between sets that seems to be getting worse and worse with every concert I go to lately. Everything else about the show was, well, boring. Although I do have to say it made me want to be John Wesley Harding. It sounds to me like he spends all his time traveling the world, making friends with cool artist types at obscure artsy events and then getting them to perform in his variety show. Every time he introduced an artist it was "I met so-and-so when they read this passage at a bar in the south of France." Or something similar. I want to travel the world and meet cool people and make a living off of it too! Although I don't think he picked his performers all that wisely. Or, at least, I don't think they picked their content all that wisely. Or maybe it's just because I was one of 6 people under 35 in the audience. Who knows. But I'm hoping that with Eugene Mirman taking the co-lead, the show will improve itself. Here is the schedule for Wes and Eugene's Cabinet of Wonders tour (on the off chance that people over 35 that aren't my mother or Lise's mother read this blog):

March 20 Austin, TX Maggie Mae's (SXSW)
March 25 Northampton, MA Iron Horse
March 26 Cambridge, MA Brattle Theater
April 1 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern
April 2 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios (2 shows)
April 4 Los Angeles, CA Largo
April 5 San Francisco, CA The Independent
April 10 Chicago, IL Schuba's
April 11 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon
April 15 New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge


FranklinBlog said...

What a weird review. I was also at the show and thought it was fantastic, as everyone seemed to (apart from you?)! You say you were rather bored, but then you list most of the bill that you thought was great. Oh, and you really liked the format, and you want to be John. Presumably you really hated the remaining two participants! By the way, Whitehead's poem was a parody of Prufrock by T.S.Eliot. That's what made it funny. FYI, I'm 34.

Em said...

I want to be John, yes, because his life sounds pretty cool. But I didn't think he was a good performer. He was a good MC, but I was unimpressed by all of his generic-sounding music and he performed way too much of it for my liking. The remaining two artists that I didn't write about were also really boring, and they went on for way too long. I may have liked half of the artists, but the artists that I liked definitely weren't on stage for half of the time. But rather than harp on the negative in my post, I chose to focus on the positive and write about the artists that I liked.

And to give you some perspective, even though you're "under 35," I am 23. So there is still a pretty significant age gap between you and I, which I suspect is part of the reason I was not as big a fan as you.