Jackie Hoffman’s Back and Joe’s [Pub] Got Her
By Ellis Nassour
For a number of occasions, Jackie Hoffman’s home-away-from-home has been Joe’s Pub. Only to be slightly outdone by Sondheim 80th celebrations, The Hoff’s back there again Monday and January 17 with Jackie Five-Oh! her blisteringly funny, often F-word-filled non-family hollercast celebrating her 50th birthday.
She’s out for blood! Hoffman muses on her own show biz decay and the fact that she’s seems only to play ‘bit’ parts onstage [of course, not true] or land on the cutting room floor in her occasional bouts with Tinsel Town – or get fired before she even starts working.
Hoffman’s at her unflinching best skewering such sacred cows such as the Tonys and being not quite downright nasty but nasty enough about Queen Latifah, Kristin Chenoweth, and Mary Tyler Moore. She’s making it known she wants a role in a Holocaust musical. She def has thoughts on the critical drubbing The Addams Family received and loves reminding anyone who’ll listen that it’s one of the biggest hits in town. She’s quite adept at flinging acid barbs at theater’s critical hierarchy – especially one critic at U.S.A. Today, "our go-to newspaper for theater," who found her irriating.
Something only her most devoted fans know is that Hoffman can sing, and not always bellowingly. She has a range that’s about 50% Midler and 50% Stritch and a very wide mouth that easily delivers her explosive comments.
She’s quite upset that doesn’t have much to do in TAF. Hoffman relates that originally Grandma wasn’t even in Act Two, but eventually it dawned on the creative team that they needed someone in front of the curtain to distract audiences during a huge set change. Why stand there and not sing? To that end, she valiantly [co-wrote with M.D. Bobby Peaco, a song for herself and submitted it to lyricist/composer Andrew Lippa.
"The one sure way to endear yourself to a musical’s composer," she blurts, "is to write your own song." Lippa didn’t seem to rise to the occasion, but Hoffman debuts the song Queen Latifah [for "stealing" a film role she was set to play and thus denying her her in the show. You know what? It ain’t bad, and could have been the one tune audiences might be humming as they exit up the aisles.
Not everything, especially a couple of the songs, works as effectively as Hoffman, who might consider adding a couple of seconds of charm. Of course, that would change the whole tenor of bitter career reflection. However, give her credit for having chutzpah!