During the bizarre, uproarious on-stage mayhem at the Comedy Cafe Friday night, all one could think was: poor Felix. Or perhaps lucky Felix. After all, how often does a balding, business-suited, middle-aged man who did nothing more than sit in the front row at a comedy show, get to get gum spit on him, be ordered onto all fours and be mounted and whipped, all by comedy's self-proclaimed "love goddess," Judy Tenuta?
Getting to the punch lines, like a long journey, was half the fun. Tenuta's timely accordion riffs enhanced her tall tales, and her obnoxiously cute growling voice, accompanied by an arsenal of quirky facial expressions and body movements, made the punch lines overstatements. Yet Tenuta often landed some real stingers -- such as comparing President Bush's sending Vice President Quayle to San Francisco to comfort earthquake victims to "sending Ronald McDonald to Tiananmen Square." The goddess's body and voice also became "possessed" at times by Andrew Dice Clay, Cher, Yoko Ono and Bea Arthur, and her lampooning of these celebrities was especially funny.
But beyond displaying an acerbic wit and playing an eccentric half-baked dominatrix, Tenuta balanced her act, adopting the delightfully giddy demeanor of "a shy, innocent, petite flower," exhorting the audience to frequently echo her high-pitched "Judeeey" in approval of her amorous and comedic immortality. Judeeey also made use of her ubiquitous accordion, butchering selected pop songs with wacky, gravely voiced off-key renditions. Her versatile and wickedly funny presentation helped Tenuta convert the audience to "judyism," but one must ask if one convert, Felix, respected himself the next morning.