Stand-up & sing – inspired by Tracey Erin Smith’s The Burning Bush

As some of you know, I started doing stand-up comedy this past spring, starting with Dawn Whitwell’s Comedy Girl class at Comedy Bar. Since performing in our class show on June 18, I’ve been back on stage a few times, including open mic at Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir, a guest spot on Whitwell’s weekly show Dawn Patrol and a feature spot at the WonderFest Comedy Series.

As I’ve been expanding my set and working on new material – I decided to incorporate something else I love a lot into my performance: singing. In this case, funny songs. And it occurred to me the other day that I should include “Rabbi School Washout.” Inspired by Tracey Erin Smith’s The Burning Bush one-woman shows, I wrote the lyrics (7 years ago) to the tune of “Beauty School Drop-out” from Grease; I sent it to Tracey and she posted it on The Burning Blog.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tracey Erin Smith, SoulOTheatre or The Burning Bush, take a look at this awesome promo/interview vid. Even if you are familiar, check it out anyway – if you’re like me, it will remind you why you love Tracey and her work so much. (Toronto Fringe fans will also recall Smith’s most recent one-woman show Memento Mori, which she mounted at the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival.)

Here are the lyrics to “Rabbi School Washout.” If there was a movie version of The Burning Bush, I picture Jackie Mason singing this to Tracey’s main character Barbara. Tracey Erin Smith, this one’s for you. xo

RABBI SCHOOL WASHOUT

Your story’s sad to tell,
Yeshiva ne’er do well,
Most mixed up shayna maidel in the school!
Your future’s so unclear now,
What’s left of your career now?
You’ll never get a job down at the shul!

Dancers: (La lalala lalala lalala…)

Rabbi school washout,
No graduation day for you.
Rabbi school washout,
Terrified seniors, what’cha do?
Well at least you could have taken time to sit and have a chat, now.
But instead it’s: “Death, just deal with it.” You think that will impress, now?

Baby get movin’ (Baby get movin’),
Just keep your feeble hope alive.
Know you can do it! (Know you can do it!)
You’ve got the dream, now show the drive!

If you go for it, go do the strip, you won’t feel like a fool.
Go shake your booty, don’t just sit there on that stool.

Rabbi school washout (Rabbi school washout),
Hanging ‘round the peeler bar.
Rabbi school washout (Rabbi school washout),
It’s about time you were the star.

Well they couldn’t teach you anything,
You think you’ve got such chutzpah
But no congregant would go to you unless they were meshuga!

Baby don’t sweat it (Don’t sweat it),
Preaching at temple’s not for you.
Better forget it (Forget it),
You’ve got a chance here, take it – nu?

Now your Torah’s learned, Kabbalah’s earned, babe you’re on a roll.
Come on, just be a mensch, and go straddle that pole!

Baby don’t blow it,
Don’t put my good advice to shame.
Baby you know it,
Even Dear Abby’d say the same!

Now I’ve called the shot, get off the pot, I really gotta go!
Just get up there and dance now – don’t you be a schmo!

Rabbi school washout, (Rabbi school washout)
Get up and dance now.
Rabbi school washout, (Rabbi school washout)
Get up and dance now.
Rabbi school washout, (Rabbi school washout)
Get up and dance now.

Who – and who’s work – inspires you?

Let this also serve as a teaser for my upcoming stand-up gigs:

Thurs, Oct 23: WonderFest Comedy Series @ Habits Gastropub (928 College St., near Dovercourt) – doors at 8 p.m.
Sun, Nov 9: Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir @ The Central (603 Markham St., around the corner from Honest Ed’s) – doors at 7 p.m.

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Beautiful, brave & brilliant words @ WonderFest Poetry Series

WonderFest 2014 festivities continued last Thursday night at Habits Gastropub with their Poetry Series event.

Host Arlene Paculan ushered us through the evening, and treated us to some of her music as well. It was a night of beautiful, brave and brilliant words and music from guests Dan Curtis Thompson, Lizzie Violet and Vanessa McGowan – who shared passionate works, full of insight, emotion and humour. Keep an eye out for these talented writers/performers.

I was able to catch the first set – here are some snaps I took that night:

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Everything Begins with Love @ Arlene Paculan CD launch

Singer/songwriter Arlene Paculan celebrated the launch of her first full-length CD Everything Begins with Love in a packed room at Gallery 345, Toronto last night.

Super-energized comic pop performer Kat Leonard kicked the evening off, opening with a set of fun, poignant originals and Kat-branded covers, starting with her Johnny Depp ode “Jockstrap” (from her one-woman show/CD A Depper Kind of Love). Mixing her own tunes up with “These Foolish Games” and “Born This Way” (very fitting as Pride Week starts in T.O.), and giving special attention to birthday boy singer/songwriter Matt Gerber, Leonard wrapped it up with her hilarious, self-deprecating tribute to personal foibles “Asshole” (first checking to see if any minors were present – there weren’t yet).

Before Leonard introduced Arlene Paculan and her band, the audience was treated to a screening of Paculan’s recently released video for “Right Behind You”:

Always vibrating with warmth and positive energy, Paculan performed songs from Everything Begins with Love, a follow-up to her I’m Worth It EP, along with some mash-up covers from the likes of Britney Spears and Our Lady Peace. The new CD is a collection of original, sexy – and sometimes edgy – love songs. “If I Only Knew Your Name” speaks to a missed opportunity in a brief, passing moment; “Just Another Guy” is an ode to Iron Man’s Tony Stark; “Nightmare” (which Leonard joined in on back-up vocals) is a warning of romantic revenge, delivered with an acid-dripping smirk; and “Right Behind You” has a subtle edge of desire and desperation behind the driving beat, a craving for reunion with a lost love. “Running” is one of my personal faves – a haunting, longing for love and hanging onto dreams, but needing to let go of fear and stand still to find it.

Paculan’s band included a line-up of excellent musicians: Peter Linseman (guitar, he was also the producer on this project), Sarah Giles (modern upright bass, who folks may recognize from Angela Saini’s band The Residence) and Miquelon “Mickey” Rodriguez (drums), with Paculan on a sweet baby grand. With her sultry, soulful vocals, moving lyrics and passionate, rhythmic arrangements (co-arranged by Linseman, Paculan and Rodriguez), Paculan is both polished and naturally at ease on stage. And she’s a pleasure to watch.

It was a fun and inspiring evening of music, friends, family and fans – complete with a post-concert buffet courtesy of Paculan’s mom – and Gallery 345 is a great venue. “Everything Begins with Love” could also be a fitting description for the vibe in the room last night.

If you missed the CD launch, you can catch Paculan next at Habits Gastropub on Friday June 28 at 8:30 p.m. in a line-up that includes Aynsley Saxe, Bryan Pickell and Roveena.

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Kat Leonard performs.
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Kat Leonard gives birthday boy Matt Gerber some attention. Happy birthday, Matt!
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The evening’s main attraction, Arlene Paculan.
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Arlene Paculan works a gorgeous dress and a sweet piano as she performs at her “Everything Begins with Love” CD launch.
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Sarah Giles, with Arlene Paculan in the background.
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Mickey Rodriguez
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Peter Linseman
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Arlene Paculan, moving us with sexy, soulful R&B.
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Kat Leonard joins Arlene Paculan on “Nightmare” – do not piss these ladies off.