Murray Hill - About To Break (at Joe's Pub) - New York City Article

Murray Hill - About To Break (at Joe's Pub)

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Murray Hill - About To Break (at Joe's Pub)

Sep 23, 2018

Joe’s Pub At The Public Presents
“Murray Hill: About To Break”
Created & Performed By Murray Hill
Directed By Scott Wittman
Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St
September 20-22 & 27-29

“Sorry, there’s no fourth wall here tonight - we couldn’t afford one!” Murray Hill is the Billy Tipton of comedy, but although the gender disruption inherent in this act might be very 21st century, the content itself is strictly old school. As in: “My girlfriend doesn’t need glasses, she drinks right out of the bottle.” “Murray Hill” harkens back to a time when stand-up comics were classified as “entertainers,” and like singers, usually performed with a piano and sometimes even a whole band - in Mr. Hill’s case, a quartet plus two rather shopworn backup vocalists. Like the great Joe E. Lewis, much of the act is sung - there’s about five songs, some are by the director, Scott Wittman, one of the major songwriters of contemporary Broadway, but all are “special material.” Mr. Hill starts out on the offense, quickly launching into a Don Rickles-like barrage of insults (all effectively underscored by drummer Howie Gordon, and not just on the rimshots) directed against those of us in the first rows. (If you were there on Saturday night, I was the bald guy with a bow tie who is neither gay nor European.) But as the 90-minute set nears its conclusion, the mood becomes more and more introspective, and most of the humor deprecates the artist himself rather than the crowd. (“My shrink told me to masturbate, but the problem is I’m not attracted to myself.”) Closer to the end, he starts into a Sinatra-like saloon song with a twist ending (no spoiler alert here) and then winds up with a “My Way”-inspired anthem of self-affirmation. “Showbiz!”

Mr. Murray Hill with “The Early Bird Specials” (Paul Leschen, piano, musical director; Scott Kreitzer, reeds; Frank Canino, bass; Howie Gordon, drums) and “Murray Hill’s Golddiggers” (a very game Frieda Williams and Francis Asher).

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)