Look Like The Girlfriend-the Cabaret
February 15, 2020
Sitting at Joe’s Pub, scotch on the rocks in hand (a 10 year old Lephreag, from Joe’s Pub’s very impressive bar menu), electricity filled the air as the lights went down. Mike Scott Jr., Meshelle’s musical director, began rocking out on the piano as Meshelle made her entrance from the back of the house. Instantly filling the room with an exuberant energy and her zest for life, she confidently strode up to the stage, belting out Don’t Cha (CeeLo Green, Busta Rhymes), getting the crowd up out of their seats to welcome her back where she belongs; a New York City stage.
As she finished her first number, her joyful and world-wisened personality shone bright as she regaled us with her experience in the land of stand-up comedy from her stint with “Funniest Mom in America 3” to the present, not skipping a beat as she set her tone of facing life with a wink and a smile. This mother of 3 teenage/college age children took pride in the fact that though she will always be “the wife”, whether married or not, she will always “look like the girlfriend.” Instilling that she’s not so much a feminist, but a womanist who believed that the strength and confidence within was what made her “Girlfriend hot”, though with her tongue in her cheek, she also acknowledged the pride she took that she was “tight in the waist and cute in the face”. (Her catchphrase for the evening.)
Keeping with the topic of strong women, she shared with us some of the strong women she’s depended on through her life as she went in to her next song, Celie’s Blues (Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton and Lionel Richie) from the movie version of The Color Purple. Coming alive with every note she sang, she seduced us with a sultry quality reminiscent of Tata Vega or Billie Holiday, showing her range and a multi-leveled depth from which she could perform from. Clearly comfortable in her skin and in front of a crowd, she sizzled as she seduced the room.
From there, she continued to bring us along through to her connection with her mother and the need to connect to her roots. Going in to Patti Labelle’s Little Girls (Allee Willis), she seemed to connect to the music in a way that made me realize she was about to take us on a journey. This song was a powerful moment for her as she rose and fell with the crescendos of each exciting new moment, and lived so fully in every word she sang that she managed to bring us all in to her emotionally. Moving us to a quiet deep place where we could tear up only to lift off and thrill us in a way the brought cheers out of us. The audience loved her.
She finished the song with a quick laugh at herself, reminding us she was in fact known for her stand-up. She then went into stories about coming up singing in church and that one girl who…….(fictionally called Chatrisse for her story). One point, Scott, still seated at the piano, laughed so hard, he actually fell off the piano bench. A man in a near by seat started throwing up his hands almost knocking over the waitress with a tray full of drinks.
The highs and lows continued through the rest of the evening. A rousing duet of Tell Me Something Good (Chaka Khan, Rufus) with Meshelle’s friend, Shawn Mark. A thoughtful cover of The Way We Were (Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch) or it’s reprise that she lovingly sang to her vagina. Or all the many laughs she had for and with us. But perhaps it’s best to conclude by saying that this reviewer would absolutely catch Meshelle again.
She begins her residency in a show called Acoustic Comedy on March 28th at a venue called Sweet Science out in Williamsburg. You can also follow Meshelle at www.Meshelle.net.
As the evening closed, Meshelle finished her set with I’m Every Woman (Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson), and characteristically got us all out of our seats to dance with her.
Powerful and poignant, thoughtful and invigorating, emotional and brave; Meshelle had it all.
Photo Credit: Tommy Vance