The title of Megan Loughran’s recent show at Don’t Tell Mama, “I Sing Standing Up,” gives a sly indication of the show’s content. Her act was a hybrid. It was, at base, a stand-up comedy show, but there were songs sprinkled throughout—some (but not all) of which were comic.
As a comedian, Loughran called to mind Rita Rudner. She took the same kind of slightly deadpan, gently self-deprecating approach that Rudner has given audiences for decades. (At one point she referred to herself mockingly as “a moth in shade.”) She is considerably more foul-mouthed than Rudner, as her performance of “The Pregnancy Song” (Bobby Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez) proved. And she tossed out crude epithets in her take on Sara Bareilles’s “Sweet As Whole.” But she didn’t encroach on Amy Schumer or Sarah Silverman’s sexually explicit comic territory. Instead, like Rudner, she dealt to a large degree with PG-rated annoyances of everyday modern life: dating woes, computers that ask you to prove you’re not a robot, public toilets with automatic flush mechanisms. One of her funniest bits had to do with the disappointing nature of fruit salads purchased from New York City delis and bodegas.
But, despite Loughran’s relative tameness, there was something fresh and contemporary about her as well. She showed youthful punch and savvy in the spoken segments of the show. At moments she reminded me of a sassy Anna Kendrick.
Her musical numbers were somewhat uneven. Her opening, the humorous “Weird With Me Tonight” (which she wrote with Andy Roninson), was a bit weak. The song was up-tempo and raucous, and its lyrics tended to get lost in the fray. But the second song, “You Need New York” (also Loughran and Roninson), was quite clever. In fact, it’s not far-fetched to say that it could become a new comic anthem for the city. When you think of the many New York songs out there—good and bad alike—you’ll notice that most tend to avoid rhymes with “York.” But “You Need New York” did so repeatedly—and amusingly.
She has a medium-sized, likable singing voice. She sang a straight rendition of “The Party’s Over” (Jule Styne, Comden & Green), which led to a parody version (with uncredited lyrics) about a party girl going to a bash thrown by an on-the-wagon host. It wasn’t uproarious, but it earned some chuckles. She segued into a non-parody version of Leonard Bernstein and Comden and Green’s “A Little Bit in Love,” sung as though maneuvering through the disorienting fuzz of a severe hangover. The number had some funny moments, but it went on a bit too long and the morning-after shtick became repetitive.
Her best musical forays, interestingly, were those that didn’t strive to land laughs. One was an earnest mash-up of Lennon and McCartney’s “Yesterday” with Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s “Tomorrow” (arranged by Matt Baker). Her finest musical moments of the set came in the first part of her take on Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s “Lullaby of Broadway” (arrangement by Zak Sandler), which she performed, sweetly, as an actual lullaby. She then sang it in a more-familiar up-tempo style. (A buoyant Tracy Stark on piano, along with David Silliman on drums, assisted ably in the musical portions of the program.)
If the show (which credited Lennie Watts as a “creative consultant”) sounds like a hodgepodge, it didn’t come across as one. Loughran’s easy rapport with her audience allowed her to move comfortably in and out of comic mode. She seems to have found a formula for herself that is worth polishing and perfecting. I definitely plan to keep an eye out for her next cabaret venture.
“I Sing Standing Up”
Don’t Tell Mama – December 11, 14
About the Author
Mark Dundas Wood is an arts/entertainment journalist and dramaturg. He began writing reviews for BistroAwards.com in 2011. More recently he has contributed "Cabaret Setlist" articles about cabaret repertoire. Other reviews and articles have appeared in theaterscene.net and clydefitchreport.com, as well as in American Theatre and Back Stage. As a dramaturg, he has worked with New Professional Theatre and the New York Musical Theatre Festival. He is currently literary manager for Broad Horizons Theatre Company.