In Your Face - New York

BETTY (Amy & Elizabeth Ziff and Alyson Palmer) co-hosted In Your Face - New York at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center. Original photo by Francesca Galliani.

By Andrew Andrews

We love a good variety show, and what could be better than a variety show about life in New York City?

In Your Face—New York is the show that celebrates the city you can’t help loving—even when it dumps all over you.”

Produced by Martin Sage and Joseph Steinberg, IYF-NY is a video series recorded live at Merkin Hall in the Upper West Side. Each month, two New York “cultural icons” host a stream of special guests and routine features that all, in some way, relate to living in the Big Apple.

For tonight’s episode, New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik joined “activist entertainers” BETTY to host the show.

House band Jay Leonhart and the (1) Train Band took the stage before the show began, providing “music to find your seats” as the audience filled the auditorium, then Cristina Cote worked the crowd as Bushwick hipster Matilda Jeffries, interviewing audience members about her artisanal acorn milk while her entourage photographed and live-streamed her appearance.

After BETTY took the stage to sing the show’s theme song, Gopnik told us about his recent bout with shingles, which he tried to combat with rum before rediscovering marijuana, only to be lectured by his seventeen year-old daughter that weed is just a gateway drug.

Next, Gopnik welcomed Josh Bazell for his recurring “Sorry You Asked” segment. Bazell, a Manhattan psychiatrist, reminded everyone that a licensed physician would not try to officially diagnose a person without speaking to them first, before providing the audience with suggestions on how to deal with “the motifs of our time: hope and dread.”

“Taking a break from Trump news might be helpful,” he advised. “It may also be helpful to vote.”

After the segment, BETTY performed their song Unbound, then author Lisa Lewis read a section from her novel, Author to Come, about a relationship that showed promise after a first date canoeing on the Gowanus Canal.

Keeping things moving, Gopnik spoke briefly about Our Table, his “most New York musical imaginable” (about sex and real estate), before introducing special guest Melissa Errico to sing two of its songs: Everyday Dance and David. The show, devleoped with David Shire, will open at Feinstein’s/54 Below on January 21st.

Couples Counseling by Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky was next, a comedy sketch about two people seeking therapy for their extramarital affair. The sketch also featured Maddie Corman, Mike Doyle, Cody Lindquist and Harry Zerler.

Artwork by cartoonist Erika Rothenberg, projected on a giant screen above the stage, kept the audience entertained between segments.

After Leonhart and his band performed his song Double Parking about the hassles of alternate-side street sweeping, Gopnik shared the story of his wife’s pregnancy and delivery while they were living in Paris before BETTY returned with their own story about pretending to be “little American boys” while living in the same city, leading into their performance of their a capella song Metro.

Nearing the end of the show, the IYF-NY quiz had audience members answering trivia questions for prizes of dubious value (such as a string of coupons at the end of a CVS receipt) before BETTY performed the Burt Bachrach classic What the World Needs Now and brought the evening to a close with a reprise of the theme song.

In Your Face—New York will return to Merkin Hall on Thursday, December 6th with food writer Ruth Reichl, authors A.M. Holmes and Anand Giridharadas, violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins and restaurateur Danny Meyer.

If you missed the show, you can watch it online soon, as well as catch up on previous episodes.

But were you one of the hundreds of cheering fans in the audience with us? If so, tell us what you thought of the whole shebang!

Your reviews can help others decide whether to check it out, and your ratings help us help you find future entertainment options you’re sure to love!

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Andrew Andrews attended In Your Face - New York at Kaufman Music Center in New York on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 @ 7:30pm to write this review.

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