By Jordan Cohen
Last Sunday night, I caught The Skivvies at Joe’s Pub, the delightful “undie-rock” duo of Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, who, with guests, perform eccentric mash-ups of songs across a variety of genres. As if their big, dexterous voices, sharp storytelling, and imaginative arrangements (glockenspiel, recorder, ukulele, kalimba, and more) aren’t enough, they do almost the entire show in their underwear – and they look fantastic.
Appropriately, Sunday night’s show was full of beloved Christmas music mash-ups. Introduced at first as “The Jammies,” Nick and Lauren took the stage in red and white striped pajamas and got things going with an upbeat medley that included Madonna’s “Holiday” and Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.”
Fifteen-year old Jonah Verdon (Disaster!) appeared next in a red reindeer onesie and blue bow tie, singing a rousing rendition of Stephen Colbert’s “Just Another Christmas Song” – a perfect choice for his big personality. Jonah then introduced “The Skivvies,” at which point Lauren, Nick, and the back up band stripped off their top layers (not quite down to the undies, yet).
Next, Lauren sang a lovely “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” interspersed with wry commentary from Nick: “I hate this song, I really, really hate this song” / “This is where the song gets rapey.”
After Lauren, Nick, and the band stripped to their full skivvies to the tune of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” (Nick: blue and white striped briefs; Lauren: blue lingerie and glittery silver high tops), they welcomed their next guest, Erik Altemus (Pippin) to the stage. By the end of his terrifically sung mash-up of Guetta/Rowland’s “When Love Takes Over” and Stevie Wonder’s “What Christmas Means to Me,” his pants and elf sweater were gone, and just red suspenders and 3-D Santa underwear remained.
Lauren and Nick then dueted to Kanye’s “Heartless,” mashed up with “Mr. Grinch” and Magic!’s “Rude” (Lauren on guitar). This segment featured a fun, jazzy sax line and a pulsing bass section. Next, they sang a song “good for those getting together with family with different political views” – “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” peppered with a little “Hava Nagila” for Hanukah flavor.
“Ebenezer Scrooge” (Leslie McDonel [American Idiot] in disguise) was next, dressed in sexy red lingerie, offering a damn good mash-up of some salty Christmas pop – The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” and Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” – with Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time. Who knew Ebeneezer had such a spot on high belt!? Leslie wowed us again later with a soulful mash-up of LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” and Adele’s newest megahit “Hello.”
Accompanied by flute and melodica (a small piano powered by breath), Nick and Lauren performed a tongue-in-cheek mash-up of the “saddest song ever written for Christmas”: “Frosty the Snowman” and Modern English’s “I Melt With You,” to hilarious effect.
Decked out in elf costume, Nick Adams (Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert) complained that Santa is nothing but a “goddamned slave driver,” and then regaled us with a medley that included Brittney Spears’ hits “Slave for You” and “Work Bitch,” Dolly Parton’s “9-5,” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” In the end, all that remained were his hat and a sock hanging conspicuously from you know where. The audience went wild.
After an original Hanukah rap (“I want another vodka, I want another latke” killed me), Alice Ripley (Tony winner for Next to Normal) changed things up with some traditional Christmas tunes. Leggy and gorgeous in her overlong black sweater, her voice was rich and full, with blue light enhancing the intimacy of her performance.
The final segment of the show featured Lauren on kalimba (a tiny hand piano) and a story about Nick’s veneers, which led into a silly, falsetto’ed “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” An improvised song using lyrics from an unsuspecting audience member’s texts followed, and the pair closed with two final mash-ups: An ironically straight-faced “bells” medley, featuring Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell,” “Carol of the Bells,” and Chuck Berry’s kitschy “My Dingaling;” and a charming finale that incorporated The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley
Joe’s Pub (Dec. 6th and 7th, 9:30pm)
425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003