We gave it a B
After the idle threat of their death in the form of a Carnegie Hall farewell concert in 2004, downtown stalwarts Kiki & Herb have resurfaced in the unlikeliest of places: the Great White Way. Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman’s inimitable meta-cabaret act — a bon mot-laced, un-PC nose-thumbing at the ”Adore me!” antics of over-the-hill lounge acts — is, at its edgy core, defiantly anti-Broadway. Booze-soaked Kiki (Bond) and ”gay Jewtard” accompanist Herb (Mellman) will not be regaling the Alive on Broadway audience with show tunes and torch songs, but rather a jolting mixed bag of selections by artists ranging from the Cure to Dan Fogelberg to Public Enemy (the latter are affectionately referred to as ”folk music”), all delivered in Kiki’s signature growl and accentuated by her partner’s unwieldy yelps.
One of the pitfalls of moving an act like this to the majors is that it will inevitably seem diluted. (In this version, there is no chance Kiki will pirouette on your tiny East Village table; in fact, alcohol consumption isn’t even an option at the Helen Hayes Theater.) And rather than a tightly wound 90-minute production, this one has two acts, which — even in the hands of such pros — is a bit much for what’s essentially a novelty act. Yet even if you’ve heard some of the material in previous incarnations, Kiki’s acidic between-song remarks still sting, and are as timely as ever, touching on Mel Gibson, the Iraq war, and airport security (”You don’t want to see Kiki on an airplane without a sports beverage,” she bellows. ”You don’t know terror!”). And it’s hard to think of a more skillfully woven and consistent performance than Bond’s. After 15 years on the boards, Kiki remains very much Alive. (Tickets: Telecharge.com or 212-239-6200)