Elaine Joyce is still so recognizable that when Lindsay Lohan spotted the “Match Game” alum crossing an intersection, she ran into her with her [blank].
If that statement were taped before a live studio audience, laughter would fill the room. And most of it would come from Joyce, the bubbly if not perennial game show figure and guest star of episodic ’70s and ’80s television (“The Love Boat,” “Hart to Hart,” “Magnum P.I.”).
These days, the actress is just happy to keep the humor flowing in “Second Time Around,” a mini Broadway act she co-wrote with her husband Neil Simon. The show hits the Plush Room this week.
“I am out of my mind with excitement about it,” Joyce beams about the work. “My sense of humor drives me, so everything stems from that. And this is a very personal thing to do.”
Indeed. “Second Time Around” chronicles some of the highs and lows of the actress’s life and career. It also includes a series of songs (“I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “A Sunday Kind of Love,” “Funny Girl” and more) arranged by musical director Emily Olin.
“I’m going to tell the truth about certain things,” she says. “The show is edgy and fun.”
It also marks a comeback of sorts for Joyce, who says the show evolved from a simple open-mic stint in New York. Eventually, playwright Simon was eager to come on board.
“Neil helped me so much,” she says. “He gave me confidence. And you can imagine, the first time I did it for him … the first thing he did was get a pen out and a piece of paper. I didn’t even start and he’s already writing me out of the act.”
But when it comes to her creative work, Joyce has always been willing to adapt. She made a dent in the films “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Music Man” and “West Side Story” before hitting her stride on stage in shows like “Sugar Babies,” “No, No, Nanette” and, perhaps most memorable, the David Merrick smash “Sugar.”
By the early ’70s, Joyce and then-hubby, the late Bobby Van, were signed on by CBS to produce a series of variety specials. Curiously, it was around that time she first met Simon, who had just lost wife Joan Baim to cancer.
“Whenever Bobby and I went out, we’d make sure Neil was OK,” she says. “And then Bobby said to me one day, ‘You know, if anything ever happened to me, that’s the guy for you.”
Van died of brain cancer in 1980.
Through the years, Joyce says humor and positive thinking often pulled her through.
“Somebody once told me that ‘life was a buffet,’” she says. “I love buffets. I love the chocolate pudding. I love the shrimp cocktails. I love all of it. And the more unusual it is, the more exciting it is to me. I am extremely adventurous.
“Life is a game,” she adds, “and it’s all about how you play it.”
Where: Empire Plush Room, York Hotel, 940 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today through Wednesday
Contact: (866) 468-3399 or www.empireplushroom.com