Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Queens of Cabaret; They Number Radiohead and Debbie Harry among Their Fans and Have Supported the Scissor Sisters. Comedy Duo Kiki & Herb Have Come a Long Way since Playing New York's Underground Gay Circuit. John Lyttle Meets Them on the Eve of Their West End Shows

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Queens of Cabaret; They Number Radiohead and Debbie Harry among Their Fans and Have Supported the Scissor Sisters. Comedy Duo Kiki & Herb Have Come a Long Way since Playing New York's Underground Gay Circuit. John Lyttle Meets Them on the Eve of Their West End Shows

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN LYTTLE

Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman turn up for our interview at the Soho Theatre and immediately apologise for being tired. Small wonder. In the past 12 months the American duo have supported the Scissor Sisters on tour, shot a documentary film, completed a run of sold-out concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall, recorded a CD and are now about to appear at the Bloomsbury Theatre in a show titled Kiki & Herb: Losers In Love, just in time for Valentine's Day.

For Bond and Mellman are indeed the notorious Kiki & Herb - and that would suck a lot of energy from anyone.

Why notorious? You'd really have to have caught them in any of their three previous appearances in London to understand. Kiki & Herb are what live comedy acts should ideally always be about - control and loss of control, the balance between artistic order and evoked chaos. You'd simply have to see the 40-year-old Bond in red sequins and Pomeranian wig as the selfish, alcoholic, sixty-something chanteuse Kiki DuRane, baiting the crowd at the Vauxhall Tavern or aboard the HMS President and listen to her bark her way through a bizarre back catalogue of everything from Kylie's 'Can't Get Out You Out of Head' to (God help us) Gil Scott-Heron's 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' via Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' or the Wu-Tang Clan's 'Ghostface' to understand why we're not talking about just another drag act.

Imagine, for instance, if Dame Edna suddenly announced that bridesmaid Madge had been gang raped as a young girl. That's what Kiki confidentially tells us about her equally drunk and decrepit 'gay, Jew retard' pianist Herb as he bangs all sorts of strange noises out of the keyboard. The delusional diva also tells us how they met - 'In a government-run facility for the mentally challenged in Western Pennsylvania' - and after her third bottle of Canadian Club shares (well, slurs) the story of how her seven-yearold daughter, Coco, fell off a yacht in Monte Carlo and drowned: 'I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, where the hell can a kid go on the deck of a boat?' All merriment stops dead.

Then begins again as Kiki staggers centre stage and invites someone in the audience to kill President Bush.

Imagine Lily Savage encouraging the overthrow of Tony Blair. As Bond jokes, 'If we have you heading for the exit, that's good. That means we've done our job.' It speaks volumes about the zeitgeist that disgust brings big fans.

Kiki & Herb are very famous among the famous. The likes of Lou Reed, Kevin Costner, Radiohead and Debbie Harry hotfooted it down to those Big Apple boltholes where piano bar meets the avant garde, and gifted the boys with the sort of underground reputation money can't buy.

Surprisingly, they say, the only star not to get the in-joke was Madonna. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.