Bruce Vilanch will be playing two nights, January 11 & 12, at Feinstein’s at the Regency in his new one-man show “Writer on the Verge”. We thought we’d call him up to see what the show’s all about. Even as he picked up the phone, he was already chuckling and cracking wise: “Is this the Gay Socialite? Any questions? Fire away!”
So, is “Writer on the Verge” all-new?
It is! It’s been a a long time since I’ve done anything in New York. When I’m in the city I tend to do benefits galore and emcee things. So I’m pretty sure all my material will be new to the city. I haven’t done a real show in New York for 10 years unless I’m forgetting something. I was at Westbeth for three months but that was almost 11 years ago. There have been many more Oscar broadcasts since then and many more things to tell stories about.
You’re going to be play Feinstein’s; will there be any singing?
I don’t think so; if I get the piano player of my dreams, I will sing, I’ve got some material. But to be there and to sing, to stand there in the shadow of so many incredible singers, just because it’s a cabaret…I don’t think when Jackie Mason played there he broke into song.
No, nor Joan Collins, and her show was terrific.
[Laughs.] She didn’t? I thought that was the whole idea. So she just told stories, right? That’s interesting too, and of course my life is so much more glamorous than hers. [Laughs.]
Yeah, Mitzi Gaynor sang a couple songs, but her show was also mostly stories.
In the ballroom, right? That’s the big time. I’m in the cabaret, where I’ve been a regular, which I actually love. I worked with Mitzi recently, when she was coming out of her shell — if you can ever believe she was in one. We did an on-stage Q&A in San Francisco, and of course what I learned is you ask Mitzi one question and she goes into material from her act, of which there is no shortage. It’s hysterical and wonderful. I think getting back out there and doing that stuff encouraged her to do a regular evening.
What do you think of the state of gay’s in today’s comedy?
I think we rule! It’s ironic on TV certainly the big hit is Modern Family and because of Modern Family there are half a dozen shows in the hopper for next year about “blended” families of different kinds and they all have a gay element in them. So success breeds a lot — this is the logical extension of Will & Grace and Ellen DeGeneres. In television there’s quite a lot of it. In general I think we’re going through a transitional period. Now that we’re visible, we’re showing different textures, a character isn’t just a gay character. He’s not in the script because he’s gay, writers are now being given freedom to discover layers in gay characters.
And you are acting in a new gay themed film comedy Oy Vey My Son is Gay.
Which is opening Friday in Miami. Miami Beach at last! I’m in Tampa right now and I’m going to go down there for the “gala” opening, “gala” that’s hysterical. It’s been released “on a platform,” opening in different markets one after the other. It’s been opening around the country on different dates. That’s a fun thing because you get reviewed at least once a week by some new person in another newspaper. It’s like the death of a thousand cuts. [Laughs.] But it’s a very funny movie, an old school comedy, about the older generation getting hit by a trifecta: their sons are gay, getting married and adopting a baby. What makes it so funny is the older Jewish parents are played by Lainie Kazan and Saul Rubinek, with Carmen Electra as “the beard next door,” and the cast just goes on like that.
For tickets, click here.