Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Smoke a reefer

I feel like I got a contact buzz from watching Cab Calloway's hair fly around the screen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For Love or Country

I'm loving every single song on Time Magazine's List of the "Top 10 Ridiculous Country Songs." (*With the exception of "She Thinks My Tractor Is Sexy," though the title is funny.) These are almost all comedy songs, and the videos star comic actors like Jason Alexander and Rob Schneider.

Most country music—and here lies a strong tie to hip-hop—is a story-telling medium. It's the lyrics that move the music and not the other way around. I love a good story song, the more absurd, the better. I mean it's no secret that I love a certain Riskay song.

Though they skipped Toby Keith's "You Ain't Much Fun (Since I Quit Drinkin')" that's the type of country song they picked. But some of country's most hilarious stories are the gut-twistin' tales of Appalachia's most downtrodden souls. One of my favorites is Reba's "Fancy":

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm a Refugee Girl!!! (in a new play by Jena Friedman)

You should come see the Refugee Girls Revue! I'm in this political satirical musical, playing a 12-year-old girl in a wheelchair. It's really funny and smart. And it's got 3 performances left: the remaining 3 Saturdays in August. I play all the piano and I ACT! What? Yep.

written by Jena Friedman

with me, Jessica Delfino, Shawn Hollenbach, Ben Kissel, Calise Hawkins, Shauna Pinkett, Jeff Ashworth, Chance Blakely, Roy Koshy, and William Von Vogt.

Saturdays October 16, 23, 30
10 PM, $10
Theatre 80
80 Saint Marks Pl.
New York, NY 10009

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Abe Vigoda isn't dead

The actor Abe Vigoda from 70s/80s sitcoms Barney Miller and Fish is still alive. If you're interested in keeping tabs on his living status, you can check daily at abevigoda.com.

However, if you're interested in seeing the band Abe Vigoda, you can go see them tonight in Brooklyn. I'm looking forward to a fun show. It's been a while since I've been to a rock show, with comedy shows dominating my social calendar, and it's about damn time. Looking forward to jumping around and sweating on strangers tonight at Death By Audio.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Phoning it in

Andrew Andrew, popular iPad DJs on East Village Radio—and new friends of mine—are "iPhoning it in." In other words, they've been hired by Time Out New York to watch NYC Fringe shows and immediately upload video reviews. And they're doing it all on their iPhone 4. It's more like an exit poll than a review, but it's pretty cool to phone in a video review. Andrew Andrew have the persona and depth to entertain and inform, but I sincerely hope that this practice is not democratized.

Tonight Andrew Andrew iPod DJs are hosting a dance party, and (SPOILER!) they've asked me to be their special surprise musical guest. I'm going to light up the room with a little "SYD."

andrewandrew, the iPAD DJs, invAAde B.E.S.

8/19/10 - 9:00pm - 2:00am

boutique eat shop
559 West 22nd Street @ 11th Avenue
New York, NY

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Final Two Provincetown Shows + Drag Kickball

I'm in the home stretch. The last couple of shows have been amazing. Sold out! (Varla Jean Merman is sold out, rather, so people are buying tickets to me show. Tee hee!)

Two shows left: Saturday and Sunday at 10:30. No trip to Cape Cod is complete without seeing my Saturday and Sunday shows at the Art House at 10:30 PM. I hope there are still tickets left for you!

I'm super excited for DRAG KICKBALL!!!! On Saturday I'm joining the the team opposite the Ptown Drag Queens. I know it's never a good idea to fight drag queens -- just look what happened to the police at the Stonewall Inn. Still, I'm a vicious kickball player. I always aim for the weave.

description from Cape Cod Today -- Drag kickball is back! This favorite summer community event, featuring the third kickball game between the Kickers and Provincetown's best entertainers is family friendly and raffle and refreshments will be available.
Drag Kickball 3 will benefit Helping Our Women. HOW is a non-profit organization located in Provincetown that provides advocacy, financial assistance and support to Outer Cape Cod women diagnosed with chronic, life threatening illness and disabling conditions. Kickoff @ 3pm gates open at 2PM.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

John Regan III's HOT D8 Orlando

Yes! The first user-submitted HOT D8 photos are in, and they were sent by Orlando dreamboat John Regan. He rocks, and he sent in 13 photos of hilariousness. All gr8 ones and some of the models are from the Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Work!

Check out the new photos here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sun Work

Barking at people to sing at them on stage.

It's not the easiest job in the world. It has extremes of being amazing and awful.

Then you get a day off and realize you're in temperate paradise. But you wonder if it's worth it.

Then, unexpectedly, Tom Judson (in "Canned Ham," f.k.a. porn star Gus Maddox) brings you a homemade brownie. This is the universe telling you that you have made some correct choices. Tom's show is fantastic. If you, like me, have been waiting for your chance to hear one man's musical journey through porn and escort service careers, get to Provincetown this summer and see Tom's show on Sundays and Mondays at the Art House.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Family Friendly Show & Captain Erica Save-A-Ho

I played a show at the Art House Theater in Provincetown for a disparate group. Some gay couples, some lesbian couples, a group of Williamsburgian hipsterish 20-somethings, and parents with their three kids, 16, 19, and 22. I met the parents earlier in the day and warned them that the show was inappropriate for kids, but they said it depended on the kid. Some kids are just mature enough to handle that kind of stuff—but in front of their parents?

I said, "I have a song called, 'Pig Fucker.'" They said, "Perfect." The 16-year-old blond boy sat by himself in one of the couches in the front row with his family right behind him. I decided not to play "Pig Fucker" when I saw him sitting there. Still, I played "Pussy Pantry," "Vagine," "Oxygen," and "Smell Yo Dick," songs with seriously parent-unfriendly content. They didn't flinch. I would have squirmed out of the theater at 16 if my parents were in the room. That's a cool family. His eyes were wide open through the whole show.

Sometimes the universe aligns things so it is hard to be anything but grateful. At the very last chord of my first song ("Ben Lerman Plays Ukulele") I popped the bass D string on my baritone ukulele. Boy-yoy-yoing. Uh, oh.

I said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached a turning point in the show where things could truly go either way." I picked up the soprano ukulele, scrambling in my mind to remember what songs I could play on it. Could I fill a whole show with just the soprano? "This is going to be an adventure ladies and gentlemen, so please come along with me on a musical journey down I-Don't-Know-What-The-Fuck-Is-About-To-Happen Avenue."

Before I could start the first song, Zach chimed in from the sound booth. (I encourage Zach to talk to me during the show.) He asked me if I had more strings. I've popped a string twice before. Nylon strings just don't go easily. With my inexperience, it would take me 20 minutes. Zach asked the audience if there was anyone there who could change a guitar string. I had been hassling the cool lesbians who work at the Art House Theater and live upstairs from me to come to the show. Thank god they waited and came to this show because I was in trouble, and Erica, who sells tickets at the box office quickly turned into Captain Save-A-Ho.

She came up to the stage, sat Indian style, and restrung the baritone while I played two songs on the soprano. It was like some sort of lesbro miracle. Erica is amazing. She got mad skills. It's comforting to know that my lesbros got my back.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Provincetown Patriots!

My shows in Provincetown have been great so far. I'm performing at the Art House Theater (to more straight people than I thought I would). Last night, a guy in his early 50s sang "Smell Yo Dick" to his wife. She kissed him. Romance lives!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My friend Stanley will march for me... Stanley Cup, that is

I won't be in Chicago on Sunday to watch the parade. I'm headed to Cleveland to do a show. And I'm not big on parades anyway. However, this year, Chicago sports outlets are doing their part to end gay locker room panic, and I find it inspiring.

The Chicago Cubs are sending a float down Halstead & Broadway, with baseball icon Ernie Banks waving to gay fans. But the current sports star of Chicago is the Stanley Cup. Hawks defenceman, Brent Sopel will be at the parade with his wife and kids, waving at gay hockey fans as well as other gay people who wonder why the fuck this family has a giant punch bowl with no margaritas in it. Sopel says he's marching to honor the memory of out hockey manager, Brendan Burke, who died in a car accident in February, two years after coming out to his dad, Toronto Maple Leafs manager, Brian Burke. Two days ago, however, the Hawks traded Sopel to the Atlanta Thrashers. Still, he'll be representing straight Chicago, and in a sense all professional sports in saying, "No big deal if you check our packages in the locker room." :-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An open letter to Adam Bouska: NO H8, HOT D8, CAN'T W8 to get married

Dear Adam Bouska,

I think the best of you, and I am a fan of the NOH8 Campaign. The photos are stunning, and the message is great. Your pictures have appeared on FOX News, Bravo TV, and countless other media outlets. And still, the anti-prop 8 message is not reaching everyone.

I am a comedian, and it is my job to look at popular culture and comment on it. I created a satirical response to the NOH8 Camapaign. It's called the HOT D8 Campaign. Is it funny? I think so. But, comedy, like photography or any other form of expression, is subjective. Some people will think it is, and some people won't. I sincerely hope that you take it in good stride and know that we are completely on the same team in a fight against H8. That's why I'm donating a portion of my tour proceeds to Marriage Equality USA and I'm encouraging others to do so too.

My HOT D8 Campaign has been featured on some blogs, and I'm taking some serious abuse at the hands of armchair critics. The backstreets of Internetville, USA, are not safe. People have said some very personal, nasty things about me. As a fan of irony, I am a little tickled by the bashing I'm getting from people defending something called the NOH8 Campaign. We are merely having some fun with the striking images you've created.

For the record, I hope that our campaign and any attention we get from it only serves to further our mutual goal: marriage equality.

All of my love to you always and forever,
Ben Lerman

P.S. Will you marry me, Adam?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Me and Thin Skin Johnny at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Y'all come down to UCB on Friday, June 4, at midnight and see a great show for only $5. Me and Thin Skin Johnny are splitting an hour in "FUNNY as FOLK."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wishing Isherwoodn't have reviewed Bloodsong of Love

A friend is coming to town and asked me for a theater recommendation. I recommended Bloodsong of Love, a delightfully twisted, blood-soaked parody of a spaghetti western with a catchy, memorable inventory of great country-rock songs. When I googled it to find a link to send my friend, I was shocked at the bad reviews I found in Variety and the New York Times.

By being way smarter than most people, Christopher Isherwood has lodged a huge stick up his ass and missed the point entirely. Isherwood has seen too many shows, and now he can no longer distinguish between good ones and bad ones. His review of Bloodsong is overly analytical and way too short on praise. Here is a show filled with great music, great performances and great joy. Maybe the show "simply soldiers on without acknowledging its contradictions, mixing a mostly straight-up country-rock score with goofball comedy willy-nilly." Who gives a shit, Isherwood? It's like I was watching a different show. The show I saw reveled in its own contradictions. It's a post-modern, self-referential, joyful explosion of song that delighted in manipulating every cliché in the book.

I'm a little outraged. And for the record, I don't know any of the people involved in the production, save the artistic director of the theater. I have absolutely nothing invested in the success of this production. I walked in with no expectations, and I walked out thoroughly entertained. I'm still singing the melodies.

This is a purely original work that will get a fraction of the attention showered on commercial Broadway adaptations like Legally Blonde, Xanadu, etc. Why does Isherwood feel the need to shit on the first musical of an indie artist? Is he dead inside? How was he unable to reflect the joy of this show in his review?

Isherwood's review is misleading. He's using his influence to lead people away from this independent show and directly to bullshit like the huge dump that Twila Tharp took on Frank Sinatra's music at the Marriott Marquis. People will automatically go to shows like that, regardless of the reviews. (A friend gave me a ticket.)

Are there flaws in the show? Yes. Is it perfect? No. Is it incredibly entertaining? Yes. Is it exciting to see someone's brilliant work at the beginning of their career? Mos def. Go see it before it closes on May 9. I'm going to see it again. I need to hear some of those great songs again. You will not get to see a better show such an intimate space. It's fantastic. Isherwood needs to lighten up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Meet your match

Everyone's favorite NY1 news anchor, Mr. Pat Kiernan is joining us at 92Y Tribeca. Come down and join in the fun. Here's the blurbitude:

Get tickets!
Match Game Live
Thursday, March 25, 9 PM, $12
92 Y Tribeca
200 Hudson St. NYC

Charles Nelson Reilly and shag carpeting are gone forever, but 92Y Tribeca and Comedy Below Canal have assembled some of New York's finest improvisors, comedians and celebrities as panelists on a live revival of the best TV game show that ever was, Match Game! Join in on the fun on Thursday, March 25, when Match Game Live asks contestants to match the panel by supplying the missing word from a sentence. Contestants will be selected from the audience to compete for fabulous prizes! Come play a game of logic and intuition while laughing your blank off.

Pat Kiernan (NY1 anchor, PatsPapers.com)
Judy Gold (HBO, Comedy Central)
Michael Musto (Village Voice)
Sara Schaefer (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)
Frank DeCaro (Sirius XM, The Daily Show)
Jessica Delfino ("I Wanna Be Famous")
and your host Ben Lerman (Here TV, Logo)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

South Park Idol

I love me some Bowersox. But sometimes she reminds me a little bit of Mrs. Crabtree from South Park.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Frank's Problem

Frank DeCaro was 20 minutes late for his own radio show today. I was his guest at the top of the show, so I was waiting for him. But Frank is so fun to be around that it doesn't matter. He's a hoot. He's actually late most of the time. Frequent listeners of his show know that they play a "Frank's late again" reel full of his ridiculous excuses dubbed over Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." His co-host and foil, Doria Biddle scolds him, and the listeners are treated to their favorite flamboyant hero getting a talk from his "Tough Love Lesbo." Frank asked me to write an opening number for their Oscars pre-show. I love it when Frank gives me a songwriting challenge!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My winter tour

I left my house before Thanksgiving, and just got back home on Sunday. It was a wild ride full of ups and downs...

November 29 - Chicago - Hamburger Mary's
I love playing here, and this was my fifth show at Mary's Attic, the adorable cabaret venue above Hamburger Mary's. I was afraid that on the Holiday weekend (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) I wouldn't be able to draw a crowd. But we ended up packing the place. Dan Telfer, a brilliant Chicago comedian, founder of Chicago Underground Comedy (CHUC), hosted the show. And my favorite lady in Chi-town, Miss Cameron Esposito opened. So much fun. I made a few other comedy stops in Chicago, performing at CHUC, Bryan Babylon's show on Vocolo radio (broadcast from the Chicago Public Radio studios), and the most fun, laid-back, freewheeling comedy show in Chicago, "Entertaining Julia," hosted by the one and only Puterbaugh Sisters.

December 2 - Heathrow Airport - DEPORTED!
Things took a turn for the depressing when I was detained and deported from the UK. I played the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the UK in August, playing a show everyday for a month. No permit was required, so went I traveled to the UK to visit a boy and booked three little shows over a period of two weeks, I didn't think I needed a permit. I was wrong. Dead wrong. When the surly UK border agent started grilling me about my intention to play shows, I realized it was not cool. But it was too late at this point to effectively lie. I got the boy on the phone to plead my case, but they were not sympathetic. They gave me a 48-hour pass, so I did get to see the boy briefly, before they deported me back to NYC. I had sublet my apartment, so I found myself in the situation of being deported AND homeless. I spent the night at Keith and Chemda's house, sharing my deportation story on their show, then flew to Chicago. I spent the next two weeks, laying low at my sister's house. It was nice to be around family coming off such an epic failure. And Alice put me to work at her store. She needed the help, and it was nice to feel useful. :-(

December 17 - Austin, Texas - Ruta Maya
I mostly travel when I want to visit friends, and I have some great friends in Austin, Meg and Eric. They live way out in the woods outside of Austin, and they have huge studio space nearby. Meg is selling her drawings in galleries around the world, and Eric just invented a new drum called the Black Swan. My show in Austin was at a cool venue called the Ruta Maya. Great room, and I was lucky enough to open up for a S&M-theater-rock, Weimar-inspired 6-piece band called Mistress Stephanie & Her Melodic Cat along with ukulele-playing showstopper, Luna Tart. Luna's act reminded me of one of my favorites: Madeleine Kahn's character in Blazing Saddles.

Houston - Dec. 18 - Notsuoh, Dec. 23 - Super Happy Fun Land
Sometimes I get treated to performing in the most odd venues. Notsuoh is a little bar with a stage, owned and operated by Jim Pirtle, a painter and former performance artist. Notsuoh has a lot of history in downtown Houston. It was a shoe store (hence the thousands of shoe boxes stacked up in the joint), a dance club, a coffe shop, and now a crazy bar full of crazy, artsy people. Jim told me that he once performed a performance art piece where he ate a jar of mayonnaise on stage, vomited it up, and put a cherry on top with "Close to You" by the Carpenters playing in the background. Clearly a statement on consumerism and the undercurrent malaise in America. Or something. Sounded pretty horrible and amazing. I also met Kelly and Kara in Houston, and they are awesome. When I came back through Houston to play at Super Happy Fun Land, I was gonna just stay at a hotel. But Kara and Kelly offered to put me up at their house for the night. Was really awesome. They're good peeps, Kara's a graphic designer with her own company, and Kelly is a structural engineer for a ship manufacturing company. Shit like that makes me want to go back to Houston, just to hang with them again. At one point during the night, the burglar alarm malfunctioned and a blaring siren went off for about a half hour before they got it to stop. They apologized profusely, but it was kind of funny watching them run furiously up and down the four-story house trying to restore order. At Super Happy Fun Land, I met punk band, The Pelly Rogers. These teenagers had me sign a giant wooden penis and proceeded to play a set of aggressive punk anthems that shook my old bones to the core. Took me back to when I was just a little 20-something trolling punk shows in New York, running into Joan Jett who was trolling for young punk girls. Super Happy Fun Land is a crazy venue on the edge of industrial wasteland Houston. They were serving some sort of Hobo Stew that looked really delicious, garnished with Fritos. Yummo!

December 22 - New Orleans - Le Chat Noir
This might have been the best show I've ever had. Great audience, great venue, great MONEY!!! Le Chat Noir is a beautiful cabaret theater. I arrived in New Orleans on Saturday and Jessica Halem and Red, my hosts had a little football party. The Saints were playing, and were crushed, but that didn't stop us from heading out dancing after. Jessica and Red were going to host me at their house, but their next-door neighbors were out of town and needed someone to watch their cats. So I had a beautiful one-bedroom apartment to myself. Lucky. I went out every night in New Orleans and had an amazing time. The day before my show, I called Tulane University's radio station and ended up doing a live, in-studio performance on Miss Behavior's catch-all show. Le Chat Noir is an amazing place, home to a bunch of great shows. If you visit New Orleans, be sure to stop in for a show there. Jessica Halem is such a pleasure to know. Sometimes, the universe aligns itself just right and you end up making new friends that you're gonna know forever. In this case, Marga Gomez made the match. I'm so grateful to Marga but not just for this...