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David Noh
Laughs, Please, However They Come
A joke-filled Gotham amidst the pain of Republicanism and voters’ ‘values’

Perhaps the week’s laugh-meter clocked its most robust performance during Bruce Vilanch’s visit to Seth Rudetsky’s “Chatterbox” at Don’t Tell Mama. Without benefit of set, lighting or even discernible two-drink minimum, Vilanch was his reliably uproarious self, oozing dishy diva anecdotes like water from a sponge. He recalled going up to Bette Davis at a holiday party and announcing, “Miss Davis, I have always wanted to say this to you: ‘Happy New Year’s, Eve!’” (She looked at him for a beat, and then replied, “Hah!”)

Vilanch also recalled interviewing Joan Crawford as a Chicago cub reporter. The lady brought her own silver “water” flask, which she kept pouring for herself and, at one point, when Vilanch went for it himself, she froze him with a terrifying glance. Vilanch was responsible for the writing on one of Rudetsky’s pet obsessions, “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour,” which showcased the non-singing, non-dancing talents of that cursedly cute clan. Some terrifying film clips were shown, which basically proved once more that Peter was undoubtedly the cutest (I’d still do him) and Robert Reed, doing disco, had absolutely no rhythm. Vilanch described Reed as a tortured soul because of his closeted homosexuality, who lived with his mother and basically became a surrogate father to the show’s kids. When I asked him if it was true that Reed was a leather queen, as rumored, Vilanch said, “Probably. He hated himself so much.”