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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deeper Dish with Jackie Hoffman (who's 'Whining in the Windy City')

Jackie Hoffman will make you laugh out loud. I thought this funny lady was fabulous in her Broadway debut as Penny Pingleton's mother and other characters in Hairspray (for which she won a 2003 Theatre World Award). She's also appeared on Broadway in Xanadu and in such notable films and TV shows as Kissing Jessica Stein, Garden State, Strangers with Candy, Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock. However, the comedic actress has received some of her best reviews for her one-woman cabaret shows, which have included Jackie With a Z and The Kvetching Continues. Time Out New York called her "the funniest woman in America", while The New York Times said that "Jackie has a love-hate relationship with her audience: she hates and they love." And last year her debut solo album, Jackie Hoffman: Live at Joe's Pub, was released.

The Second City alum has now returned to Chicago to entertain us in TWO shows this holiday season--and I can't wait! Unless you've been living under a rock and not reading this blog, you should already know that Jackie is playing Grandmama in the new musical version of The Addams Family, which is having its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago from November 13 - January 10. Most people would probably rest on their only day off, but not Ms. Hoffman, who is debuting her own show, Whining in the Windy City: Holiday Edition, on Monday nights (November 30 - December 21). It's a no-holds-barred original musical comedy rant that is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended. She promises to skewer everything that is "Merry", and a cash bar will be available for those looking to steady their nerves--but don't even bother requesting eggnog, mulled apple cider or any other such holiday drink. Sounds like a good time to me!

Considering her very busy schedule these days, I am so happy--but not merry--that Jackie was able to take some time to be here on the Dish to discuss her career and answer a few pop culture questions.

Let's start with Whining in the Windy City: Holiday Edition. What will you be ranting about here in Chicago?
The Addams Family, the holidays, children, benefits, Jewish people, Christian people, whiny stupid people, gay people, straight people, people.

What's your favorite holiday?
Shavuoth (it's a Jewish holy day to celebrate Moses receiving the Ten Commandments).

What is the most memorable and/or funniest moment you have had while performing onstage?
When I improvised my last moment in Hairspray and went on for 10 minutes.

You've lived in Chicago and New York City. In three words, how would you describe each place?
New York: Dirty, loud, crowded.

Chicago: Less dirty, loud, crowded (I know, that was four).

How did you get the role of Grandmama in The Addams Family?
I auditioned TWICE.

How would you describe Grandmama?
I'd describe her as really old and funny, and she has a surprising love of substances.

What is your favorite moment in the musical?
Anytime I see Thing.

You appeared on a 2007 episode of As the World Turns and more recently on One Life to Live. Are you a soap opera fan?
I watched All My Children for 30 years. I haven't gotten on that one yet.

You were kissed by Ilene Kristen's Roxy during your recent appearance on One Life to Live. How would you rate her as a kisser?
She's a little rough, but I like it that way.

In high school I was:
30 pounds more.

If I had to gain 30 pounds for a role, I would eat:
Whatever I ate in high school.

The last good book I read was:
Shelley Winters' second autobiography, Shelley II. She talks about food a lot.

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Get Smart, The Carol Burnett Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, M*A*S*H.

Today I never miss a television episode of:
Project Runway, What Not to Wear, The Real Housewives of New York, New Jersey and Atlanta, and I don't have Bravo where I'm staying. Help!

The very first record album that I purchased with my own money was:
Great question. I think it was a collection of K-tel hits or the Carpenters' greatest hits.

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
I'd listen to my CD, Jackie Hoffman: Live at Joe's Pub.

If I could star on Broadway in any role in any musical or play, I would be:
The star of anything.

If I could have anyone in the world--living or dead--be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Groucho Marx, W.C. Fields and Golda Meir.

What's next for Jackie Hoffman?
I'm down for The Addams Family for at least a year. Then, breaking out solo in a big way.

Thank you, Jackie, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish, and I looking forward to seeing you in both of your shows. You can purchase tickets to Whining in the Windy City: Holiday Edition either by phone (312-988-9000), online at, or in person at the Royal George Theatre box office (1641 N. Halsted). For more information on Whining, go to And for information on The Addams Family, go to

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