Madame, the saucy puppet who enjoyed TV fame on "Hollywood Squares" and "Solid Gold" — if you remember — is back.
Perhaps she’d be better off in storage in the costume shop, where she apparently has rested for more than a decade.
These days, the man behind the woman isn’t Wayland Flowers, who died in 1988. The guy responsible for her unceremonious return is Joe Kovacs, who’s appearing in "Come Back from Abroad" at San Francisco’s Plush Room.
The curious who may have enjoyed her television sassiness should beware that her club material is far, far beyond what broadcast censors could handle; it’s even blue for a stand-up act. When she calls herself a potty mouth, she’s putting the term lightly — to the point where just about anything she says during the nearly 90-minute show couldn’t be quoted in a family newspaper.
While obscenity doesn’t necessarily mean "not funny," that is the case with this show, which, unbelievably, features two supporting players —Randy Odell on drums and Michael Ferreri on piano, who also has the unfortunate job of being the straight man for Madame/Kovacs.
Yet the act doesn’t seem like a rehearsed piece of comedy. It’s more like an extended, poorly executed improvisation in which every utterance — seemingly not about any particular topic — simply falls flat. No one onstage seems to have prepared anything and no one appears to be trying.
There isn’t even enough material to keep Madame going for the duration of the show; she leaves and Crazy Mary (another character originally created by Flowers), an escapee from Bellevue Hospital, comes on for awhile. Mary is as bawdy and unfunny as Madame.
Still, Madame is not without some charm; she’s still as gorgeous as ever. She changes feathery, sparkling outfits few times, and her delivery and singing are as lively as you remember from her TV days. Yet she and her human compatriot have plenty of work to do if they want to relive their glory era.
Who says being a crude puppet can’t be a hit? Triumph the Insult Comic Dog seems to have followed nicely in Madame’s "footsteps."
Madame with Joe Kovacs
Where: Plush Room, York Hotel, 940 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $37.50 to $42.50
Contact: (866) 468-3399 or www.empireplushroom.com
Do you remember "Solid Gold"?
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