How unfair it is that Isaac Mizrahi can design clothes for celebrities, be an Internet-famous cook and delight an audience! The polymath has not only dressed Hollywood actors and judged “Project Runway All Stars,” but he’s also a singing and comedic talent. On Saturday, Mizrahi and a group of jazz musicians served a salacious blend of music and comedy at Bing Studio. Despite a few uncomfortable jokes, spirits stayed high throughout the night.
The set list included a heartfelt performance of “Everybody’s Talkin’,” a smooth rendition of “Alfie” and a seductive crooning of Madonna’s “Borderline.” Mizrahi also livened up the room with his version of “You’re the Top” from the musical “Anything Goes,” refreshing the lyrics with cultural references like “You’re the Styles of Harry” instead of “You’re Garbo’s salary.”
The romantic song selections suited Mizrahi’s old-fashioned, baritone voice. The retro lilt in his vocals almost made me want to sit around a box TV set with my family and bask in the hope of a post-World War II boom. Mizrahi also spiced up the songs here and there with snarky comments, keeping the audience laughing throughout the show.
The jazz musicians playing with Mizrahi stood out as well. On the trumpets, Benny Benack III and Bruce Harris shone whenever they got a moment in the spotlight, their smooth, soulful music captivating the audience. The bass, piano and drum players stunned the crowd as well each time Mizrahi turned the spotlight on them.
Although the music was top-notch, the most memorable parts of the show were Mizrahi’s stand-up moments. Between tunes, Mizrahi spilled his thoughts on Instagram, celebrity stories and pills — he loves pills. And Jon Hamm.
“He can get it any number of ways, in any number of positions at any time, day or night,” Mizrahi stated about the “Mad Men” actor.
He also has a bone to pick with Instagram. It’s not that he gets too many hate messages; it’s that he gets too few nude pictures from attractive men. Mizrahi joked, “I am waiting for hot guys to slide into my DMs. Where are they?”
Mizrahi was forthcoming about his attraction to men, even freely objectifying his own musicians to the entertainment of the crowd. It toed the line where I wasn’t quite sure if the musicians were entirely balmy with it since they didn’t have a voice in the show. At one point, he egged on his single pianist to stand up and show himself off to the ladies in the audience, but the pianist refused. The show carried on swiftly, and the laughter poured like normal, but I wondered how harmless these comments were. If these bits were intentional and just for laughs, they could have been more exaggerated to make that clear.
If they were indeed problematic, Mizrahi wouldn’t care. He wondered out loud why he hasn’t been canceled yet himself. “Is it somehow, like, a little chic to be canceled nowadays?” he joked.
One path to getting canceled, as noted by Mizrahi, is by committing cultural appropriation. He called out potential instances of cultural appropriation in his show — when singing the Spanish word “canción” during his version of “Everybody’s Talkin’,” he broke rhythm to add, “Is that cultural appropriation singing it? Sorry.” These side comments seemed to poke fun at how people can overreact to the act of sidestepping into another culture, but they sucked attention that could have gone to funnier or more nuanced takes.
Mizrahi kept the energy high to the very end, belting a lively, fast-paced rendition of “Say Liza” to close the night. Aside from a handful of questionable moments, Mizrahi’s show certainly established his talents in stand-up and singing in addition to fashion design. Through a night of laughter and invigorating music, he redefined what it means to be a “triple threat.”