Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Joan Jaffe!

Joan Jaffee, Age 4

"All that glitters is not gold - but make sure before you throw it out."

Happy Tuesday,
I'm very excited to be writing about my dear friend Joan Jaffe today. Joan is nominated for a 2012 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs). The award ceremony takes place on March 29th at BB King's. 
Joan is nominated in the category of Musical Comedy Performer/Impersonation/Characterization. I'm thrilled that Joan is nominated. She already is a winner in my book. She is sharing this category with drag artist Hedda Lettuce and last year's Bistro Award winner, Colleen McHugh. I never thought I would hear Joan Jaffee and Hedda Lettuce in the same sentence, then again, NOTHING about Joan is conventional. 
I have known Joan and her late great husband Hal for some time and my life is the better for it. I'm thrilled to celebrate her today and introduce her to new audiences. 

Let's go back to the beginning...
Joan and Hal in the movie, The Savages
When Joan was in the 1st Grade - age 6 - the elementary school class in the little town of Coatesville, was taken to Scott High to see a play performed by adults who were real actors.  
How exciting it was for young Joan to be inside the high school!  How exciting to see a live performance!  (They didn't have TV then - only movies in the only movie theatre.) She had been in dancing school recitals with other children - but these were adults on the stage!  
They were so big! - and they had sets and costumes.  Their dancing school recitals only had costumes. She KNEW this was the world for her.

I asked Joan who her favorite entertainer is and why.
Billy Crystal - he's smart, funny, clever, intelligent, inventive - embraces his audience - he's warm, loves life and what he does  and is never condescending - he seems to always be growing in his craft.
What have you learned about making your relationships in the industry more solid and resourceful?
With Tamara Jenkins: Writer/Director The Savages
 Be honest, assertive and sharing.
Your thoughts on Arts in Education
Parents and schools have to expose kids to more than TV and iTunes.  We need more arts training in the public schools - some schools don't even have a piano.  Arts programs are always the 1st to be cut back or cut entirely.  More after school arts program should be initiated.
Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong era? What other period of time do you relate to and why?
with Billy Bush (Access Hollywood)
I think I must have been in Vaudeville in my life before.  Maybe it's because I'd been on the road so much and I stayed in so many hotel rooms decorated by Ray Charles.  My hotel room in Chicago had a Murphy Wall Bed.  Every night I was afraid to go to sleep - I was afraid the bed would fold back up again. I played so many restored theatres.  Some still had the old call boards backstage.  One theatre had a dumb waiter that went from my dressing room to the stage - was it for transporting props and costumes or actors?
with Colin Farrell
I'd just played Mae in Bye Bye, Birdie in Michigan in a restored vaudveville house - I came back to New York and was cast as George M. Cohan's mother.  I so identified with the character and the era - I swear Nellie Cohan's ghost stood over me helping me decide what earrings I should wear in the show.
Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)
I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen (See below on how YOU can help!)
Carol Channing is an American icon and should be honored during her lifetime for her contributions to the Arts.
Most recent appearance
Besides cabaret appearances, I did a staged reading of a wonderful new play VEILS by Nadine Bernard. Just finished filming Alex Tressor's documentary A Few STEPS Beyond The Horizon.
Next appearance
Joan as Richard Simmons on Late Nite with Conan O'Brien

Next week we begin filming another documentary about Parkinson's Disease.  As you know, I've been directing cabaret shows and am set to begin another new project shortly.  In the meantime, I'm working on expanding my show Joan Jaffe's MAN-ha-ha-ha-TAN into a full length show to be presented in theatres.  All I need now is a theatre and a producer.  I had a terrific contact who just sold their theatre to a Korean church.
Joan feels that HER biggest successes in show business is the positive reception from audiences and critics to Joan's cabaret shows and her CD - and her 2nd nomination for MAC - She was nominated for a 2010 MAC Award in the same category for her 1st show JOAN JAFFE SINGS FUNNY...   (Now her family doesn't think she's a bum!) She was able to incorporate all aspects of her theatrical career and training and call upon all her years of experience in Show Business and have it all come together successfully. 
What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that?
with Colin Quinn and Leo Allen
I did stand-up at a Catskills resort - I'm not a Borsht Belt comic and I really tanked.  - How did I surpass that? - I never went to the Catskills again.
What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
More policing and enforcing of copyright laws and decent compensation for performers.
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
For the time being I'm happy being a moon* (*not a star - yet) - but at least I'm not a satellite.
Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
In the film remake, The Producers
(To a certain degree - I've survived in Show Biz all these years - so in that sense, I've achieved what I set out to do --)  When I was a very little girl - I decided I wanted to be a dancer, a movie star, a writer, a nurse and a fireman.  I started in the Business as a dancer - and I still dance - old dancers never die - we just lose our tutu's - While I'm not a movie star - I have worked in lots of films.  I've written comedy material and material for cabaret acts, including my own.  I was never a fireman - but I was nurse - on Guiding Light.
What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
When I'm down and out - I lift up my head and shout - SHOP!
How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss.
YouTube, Face Book - next time I'll try Groupon. 

A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
1. Keep working in the Biz
2. Have good health
3. Have more government subsidy of the Arts - but maintain the artistic freedom that we Americans have.
How did you get into this business?
When I was 3 1/2  my mother took me to dancing school - I liked it - so it's her fault! - After many trips to New York to audition for summer stock.  I finally got a job - I was so excited.  I remember I phoned my father collect to tell him I'd gotten my first Equity job - He said, "Hurry up and sign the contract before they change their mind."
What is your favorite song? And yes, you can only pick one!!!
God Bless America - written by my late cat Irving Berlin, when he was a human.

What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional.  
Assistance at Playwrights Horizons

What do you do to prepare for your performances?
The same way you get to Carnegie Hall - PRACTICE!
When do you know it’s time for a Joan Jaffee show?
If you mean a new show - When the absolutely right idea presents itself - you know.

 Do you make a living at this or do you have a survival job?
 I've been a professional in Show Business all of my adult life. - Like everyone else, I've experienced some hard times - in 1980 I didn't audition for summer stock and decided to stay in town and work in movies.  SAG went on strike - All I knew how to do was sing, dance, act, tell jokes and type 25 words a week.
  A friend suggested I take the training, go down for the test and buy a Guide License.  I love the city, so that summer I worked as a guide.  The dollar was worth nothing.  People from all over the world came to New York City because it was so cheap (for them). 
I still maintain my license but rarely do tours now. - But - that's where I got the idea for my show Joan Jaffe's MAN-ha-ha-ha-TAN

What is your favorite compliment?
"You're very funny!" 

Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!

Tomorrow's blog will be...Hello, Marcia Milgrim Dodge!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

  Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Richard Skipper,
This Blog is dedicated to ALL ARTISTS: Past, present and future and the gifts they give to the world!

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