She's the Boss
Catie Lazarus takes the helm of new theme show
nominally about highs and lows of workplaces.
Editor’s note: This piece originally ran around March 20, but has
been edited to correct some errors.
Theme shows are burgeoning in New York as a good hook to bring in
audiences who aren’t familiar with the performers selected. Jester has
reviewed several of them over the past year or so (such as
Facebook improv, and
Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad).
92Y Tribeca, which is home to some of these, introduced a new one on
March 17 that nominally seems to be part of this trend, but is unlike
the others in form, style and format. “Employee of the Month,” hosted by
Catie Lazarus (see
interview, 3/6/07), is a talk show with some variety show
aspects to it, and thus improvised rather than prepared with scripts or
The show is still in experimental form, with Lazarus keeping the
topic of the conversations squarely on employment or lack thereof, and
the part that career pursuits play or played in the lives of the
interviewees. Some of the material either from the March 17 show or
upcoming shows may be going to a webcast or other re-purposing of the
show’s content in the future, although details are not yet confirmed.
The focus of “Employee of the Month,” naturally, is on the host doing
the interviews, and Lazarus presented a curious mix of interview styles
from guest to guest. On this night, she hosted Jacque Servin of activist
group The Yes Men, actor Maria Dizzia, entrepreneur Ricky Van Veen (who
had struck it big with CollegeHumor.com), and singer Lady Rizo (Amelia
With Dizzia and Van Veen, the conversations were more about the
circumstances of being employed or unemployed, echoing the show’s theme
and title. Lazarus didn’t do completely straightforward interviews, and
some of the questions could be heard as arch or dismissive, but in an
entertaining way, more for the audience’s benefit than in the name of
doing a serious interview -- for example, she asked Dizzia, “Do you pray
to get commercials?” It played like Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea
Lately” show, which appears to be a big influence on Lazarus’ timing and
tone in this show.
The highlights of “Employee of the Month” came out from guests in the
lineup who exhibited strong personalities -- like Van Veen, who was
animated in recalling his successes so that Lazarus hardly had to
intervene, and especially Servin, who had plenty to talk about in his
work in The Yes Men, who released a new DVD, “The Yes Men Fix the World,”
on April 1.
It’s hard to tell how much Lazarus may try to book guests more
directly tied to the theme of talking about highs and lows of their jobs
and careers in future editions, but this first show fluctuated from that
a little bit, although the Yes Men certainly do address the woes of the
workforce in an oblique way it could be said.
With Lady Rizo, the show closed in an entirely different vein, adding
a bit of a variety show feel to the proceedings. She has a unique way of
applying humor to music -- for her two numbers, she re-cast “Blame It On
The Alcohol” and a Pixies song, with all its highs and lows, as cabaret
standard style pieces. It’s not necessarily irony, but it is arch, with
a raised eyebrow. That’s in keeping with the way Lazarus plays it at
times while hosting this show.
Plans for future installments of “Employee of the Month” are still
in the works. We’ll keep you posted.