"Songs To Offend Reviews"

May 25, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle Review of "Songs to Offend Almost Everyone"
McNight gets saucy in new show 
'Songs to Offend' delight crowd

Philip Elwood, Chronicle Jazz Critic    Thursday, May 24, 2001 
With her new show, "Songs to Offend Almost Everyone," which opened at 
the Plush Room on Tuesday night, San Francisco's veteran cabaret 
trouper Sharon McNight is having a grand time -- from Durwood 
Douche's "Merrilou," sung in her most agonizingly bored Marlene 
Dietrich manner, to the parody she wrote with Michael Greer, "Wind 
Beneath My Wings (Contempt Beneath My Feet)." 

Her advance publicity suggested that political correctness would 
be "shoved back into the closet," but McNight's 70-minute program of 
20 songs, many sexually explicit, happily steered clear of the old 
ethnic slurs of vaudeville. 

Since her early performances at Chez Jacques, now long gone, McNight 
has featured Sophie Tucker, Mae West and Dietrich material, some of 
the choicest Noel Coward routines, such as "Don't Put Your Daughter 
on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington," and Steven Sondheim's "I Never Do 
Anything Twice," both of which she sang Tuesday night. 

The Sondheim was one of the show's best numbers, along with Eddie 
Cantor's hit from "Kid Boots" (1924), "The Dumber They Come, the 
Better I Like 'Em," which McNight wisely chose as an opener. 

It was strange to hear Tom Lehrer's "The Old Dope Peddler," "When You 
Are Old and Gray" and the "Masochism Tango" included in a cabaret 
show designed to offend, but they are wonderful to hear again -- and 
McNight handles them remarkably well. The same goes for Randy 
Newman's somber "God's Song," with its dirgelike tempo, as well as 
his magnificent "Political Science," whose lyrics "Let's drop the big 
one" could have come straight out of "Dr. Strangelove." 

"George W." -- original words to the tune of the "Beverly 
Hillbillies" theme -- is not as good as a version the Capitol Steps 
singers might do, and the frisky words to "Humoresque," "Turkey in 
the Straw," "Marines' Hymn" and a few others drew guffaws from 
Tuesday's Plush Room audience, as they did for most of us when we 
were in high school. 

"Goodbye, Good Luck, Good Riddance" got a tremendous response, 
especially from the women in the crowd, as did the equally emphatic 
and nasty "Revenge Song," written by "Woody" Woodbridge. 

McNight's campy commentary and spicy inferences, although often 
unintelligible, keep the show moving along; she's a superb actress, 
always on the move. 

And what a delight to have pianist Joan Edgar, who now spends much of 
her time in Europe, backing McNight. During San Francisco's pre-AIDS 
cabaret boom years, Edgar was the most sought-after of accompanists. 

SHARON McNIGHT performs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays (7:30 
p.m. this Saturday), 3 p.m. Sundays through June 3. $25; two-drink 
minimum. The Plush Room, York Hotel, 940 Sutter St. Call (415) 885-
6800. www.plushroom.com. 

2001 San Francisco Chronicle   Page E - 2 
September 15, 2004 Napa News.com