Sunday, December 11, 2016

Yes This Winter Body

Studies have shown that Late Night Lip Sync is extremely good for relationships.

In February 2015, I invited a friend to join me at the Basement to see my first ever Lip Sync contest and he brought along the brilliant and beautiful young woman he'd been dating for less than a month. Both had a fabulous evening and agreed that they'd never in their lives laughed so hard. Ever.

Those two crazy kids got married last week. Coincidence? I don't think so.

When I got the invitation for tonight's Late Night Lip Sync, I naturally invited them to join me, but with plans to leave for their honeymoon Monday, they weren't sure they'd make it, so I signed on a friend and his main squeeze, only to learn that - wait for it - she'd been part of the very first Lip Sync event at Rare Old Times.

Oh, and by the way, they moved in together last week and they're getting married next summer. Is anyone seeing a pattern yet?

All of which is just prelude because I arrived with the latter couple tonight after a shared meal, got situated in the front row with them and moments later was greeted by the former couple, who'd done just enough packing and preparation for their trip to feel justified in having a raucous night out laughing before they vacate the 804.

Once again, I was surrounded by my people, all of them madly in love and incidentally major fans of Late Night Lip Sync. But then, who wouldn't be?

Certainly not me considering one team was named Team Karen (Caring?) and the other Team Not This Winter Body, both made up of actors hams with familiar faces, boundless energy and extensive props.

That they're all marvelous singers only makes it more improbable since they can't use their voices. It's people like me who can't carry a tune in a bucket who should be lip syncing, but we're not big enough hams.

As usual, there was shit-talking ("Their team is so scared, they ran away"), classic Madonna ("Holiday"), $1 Monopoly bills thrown at the audience, and beer-guzzling to determine who went first.

Another time, who went first was determined by which contestant could find and don full winter attire first (I supplied my gloves to help Team Not This Winter Body come out on top). Yet another time, a Kleenex box of ping pong balls tied to two contestants' backsides were emptied via booty popping.

They're a creative lot, that's for sure.

The friends I'd brought were good sports, not to mention fully invested, with her getting up to tell a groan-worthy Christmas joke (when Santa asks the Mrs. about the weather, she says, "I see rain, dear") during a technical difficulty and him obligingly blowing bubbles once they'd been handed off to him so the team could finish their dancing and fake singing amid a cloud of bubbles.

The cheers were almost deafening when Chelsea did "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," complete with striptease that included yanking a guy in Santa pajamas from the audience to use as her plaything. He turned out to be part of the act, no surprise given his wildly hilarious mannerisms and admirable agility.

During intermission, the newlyweds regaled me with their month-long itinerary for South Africa, which would be enviable enough simply for the fantastic location, but crossed into full-on jealousy territory upon hearing that the first week is solely devoted to massages, yoga and sex.

This, too, can be yours, with enough Late Night Lip Sync, my friends.

During the improv round, teams alternated sending someone to the center for each unexpected holiday song played, but most of them were bested by holiday hits that predated them.

Witness Elvis' "Blue Christmas" that was more pelvic thrusting than lip syncing, a complete blank on Elton John's "Step into Christmas" and an audience member who laid down onstage for "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," although again, there wasn't much attempt at the words, just the action.

Anyone can run over Grandma, it's singing about it that's hard, that's all I'm saying.

Without a doubt, the pinnacle of the evening was when Team Not This Winter Body - clad in awful Christmas sweaters and antenna headbands - did their choreographed finale, which managed to touch down on every possible holiday laugh using scores of props in the process.

Want proof? "All I Want for Christmas" segued seamlessly into "Dick in a Box" (gift-wrapped, natch), before "The Christmas Song" began (wherein a team member squatted over a felt fire for the line, "Chestnuts roasting, yada, yada), only to become "Santa Baby" followed by an updated "Mr. Grinch."

In what may have been my favorite moment of the entire mash-up, it was the two male members who appropriately nailed "Sisters" from "White Christmas" (as only men can do), while Mannheim Steamroller's overwrought "Carol of the Bells" had the entire team dramatically playing imaginary classical instruments before becoming a Rockettes-like kick line for "We Need a Little Christmas."

Good as Team Karen/Caring's boy band tribute was, and it rocked, Team Not This Winter Body took home the imaginary prize.

Meanwhile, Santa only knows how many relationships were born tonight out of so much talent providing so much hilarity. Study results will be out in a year or so.

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