All kinds of fabulous people come to Provincetown during Carnival week. Bruce Vilanch is one of the funniest and he’s got a new 90-minute show at the Provincetown Theater, Aug. 20-22. Plus, he’s bringing some special friends, the Skivvies, with him.
The Skivvies, Vilanch explains, “are a man and a woman and they play instruments and they work in their underwear. They were in the John Doyle production of ‘Sweeney Todd’ and fell in love with their instruments.”
The Skivvies have a following of Broadway friends who hang with them and also play in their undies. For this show, Nick Adams, of “Wicked” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” fame, and Randy Harrison appear with them.
Everywhere Vilanch goes it’s a party — a celebration of gay life and culture. Here is a man who doesn’t need the Supreme Court to make him feel like a real person. He’s been making queer folks laugh and feel good about themselves for years. A wickedly outrageous comic with a heart of gold, he’s the Jewish mother you always wanted.
Vilanch started out as a child actor in New York doing commercials and summer stock, never the star but always in the show. “I was never a child star or we’d be having this conversation in rehab,” he says. “My parents encouraged it. They were happy that I was happy doing it. However, they wanted me to have something to fall back on. They thought journalism would be the thing.”
After college he worked for the Chicago Tribune. While there, he interviewed Bette Midler. Before long, he was writing her act and when she hit it big both of them were off and running. He also wrote for Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams.
He was the head writer for the Academy Awards from 2000-2014 and served in the same capacity for the third iteration of Hollywood Squares.
“I’d been writing for Whoopi for years and when [‘Hollywood Squares’] made a deal with her, she said, ‘Vilanch should be the host,’” he says. “They thought she was crazy but they didn’t want to piss her off so early so they tested me.”
“They said your test is really funny but we need someone a little more mainstream to be the ringmaster in this circus,” says Vilanch. “They put me in a square next to Whoopi. They figured I could tame her, which is not a good idea because she’s really a Jewish boy and I’m a black woman. We had a lot of fun out there. All of a sudden I was on TV every night. Just like Donald Trump.”