Ten-Foot Rat Cabaret: L’Amour du Rat

By Andrew Andrews

Jillian Thomas hosts the Ten Foot Rat Cabaret every month at Under St. Marks Theatre

If you’ve been following our reviews lately, you’ve surely noticed two trends: one, a lot of variety shows, and two, a focus on Brooklyn. So what do we do on a day when there’s an event we want to check out in Brooklyn, but a variety show we like in Manhattan? Decisions, decisions! As luck would have it, though, the Brooklyn event was sold out, making it an easy choice! Off to the East Village—where we haven’t reviewed a show since Couples Therapyfor the Ten-Foot Rat Cabaret!

Hosted by "foul-mouthed girl" Jillian Thomas, “The Rat” is the first regularly-occurring variety show we ever attended in New York City, so it’s probably responsible for our addiction to the genre. Thomas opened the show with a bit of stand-up, as she always does, and mentioned the fact that she’s Canadian—like Ophira Eisenberg, whose shows we just reviewed twice in a row. Now, before you infer anything: no, we are not stalking Canadian comics, and no, this is not going to be our new trend! Anyway, Thomas got us into the Valentines Day spirit by sharing a recurring dream that she’s had since childhood, in which she discovers first-hand a gentle lover in Robert Goulet! Leaving those of us old enough to recognize the name with that image in our heads, Thomas introduced tonight’s musical guest, Smax Music, who taught the audience a Haitian call-and-response—Sak pasé? N’ap boule!—and the Caribbean values of “flow, rhythm... and being late.” His next song, about domestic violence, offered encouragement to its victims to stop using “love” as an excuse for tolerating abuse.

Comedian Rojo Perez lightened things up with an anecdote about getting caught in a revolving door with a stranger, followed by his new year’s resolution to stop dating women who are tall enough to pick him up—because nobody looks good with their feet dangling in the air as an adult! His set was followed by a sketch by Bill Chambers (a regular performer on the show): following a very short scene in which Chambers said only, “But I had a vasectomy,” he fielded questions from the audience—some about the piece, others as diverse as “if you could go back in time, would you kill Hitler as a baby?” Something tells us that the audience members posing the questions might have had some help coming up with them!

Sketch group National Scandal performed next, starting with a very humorous scene in which a serial killer repeatedly (and rather blatantly) confessed his crimes to a pair of detectives during an interrogation, but the cops just couldn’t seem to understand what he was saying. Next, they imagined what would happen if Vice President Mike Pence showed up for his high school class reunion, where everyone called him by his childhood nickname Mike Penis. Scandal’s skits were as good as any you might find on a weekend late night comedy show, and we hope to catch another one of their performances soon.

Keeping the variety coming, “contractually-obligated” regular storyteller Gregor of Berlin (played by Gregory Levine) shared the not-so-romantic tale of his uncle in Germany harboring a fugitive whore when her pimp came calling, told partly as a series of knock-knock jokes with no funny answers. Gregor’s fidgety pessimism is always a highlight of the show.

The final guest of the evening was burlesque artist Taradise Bizub, who teased us to the sounds of Prince’s When Doves Cry, then Smax returned to the stage to close out the show with his song Happiness Right Now. Check out his website for some catchy melodies with straightforward, positive lyrics!

It turned out to be a great night to return to the Ten-Foot Rat Cabaret, making us regret that it’s been so long since the last visit, and surprised that this is our first review. If the 9:30pm start doesn’t keep you out past your bed time, check out this great example of what a variety show can be when it rolls back around next month at Under St. Marks Theatre!


Andrew Andrews attended Ten-Foot Rat Cabaret: L’Amour du Rat at Under St Marks Theater in Manhattan on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 @ 9:30pm to write this review.