Forbidden Broadway had been going downhill for a while at this point, due to Gerard Alessandrini’s waning creativity and increasingly mean-spirited, hateful attitude toward his subjects. But this is the point where Alessandrini stopped even trying to be funny and just started hurling general-purpose insults at everyone on Broadway, with song titles like “It’s D’Gusting” and “Big Shows Sell Out”.
Say what you will about Special Victims Unit, but at least it had tried to make actual jokes. Here, Alessandrini even composed a song describing people who like shows he doesn’t as “Slow People”. And the tiny handful of ‘jokes’ he does attempt to make are so lame and half-hearted that they’re almost depressing…for example, “Walk like a man, sing like a girl”, a joke that Dave Barry’s Book Of Bad Songs had already made back in the mid-Nineties.
Particularly weak is the Spamalot sequence, which rips off half the lyric of “The Song That Goes Like This”, tries to parody something that was already a parody to begin with, and openly accuses Eric Idle of ‘stealing their jokes’ (don’t flatter yourself, Gerard…it wasn’t that creative a joke to begin with).
The only jokes that work even a little are in the recycled Les Miserables sequence, the show’s then-current revival having given Alessandrini an excuse to trot that overexposed gag out again with only one brief new section about cell phones in theaters.
Even the impressions are poor this time around…with the possible exception of Janet Dicksinson’s Christine Ebersole, they sound less like impersonations of Broadway stars and more like stock funny voices. This is particularly true of the Yoko Ono ‘impression’, which just sounds like a standard Japanese caricature.
The show closes, not with his traditional ‘just kidding’ disclaimer-song, but with a whiny parody of “What I Did For Love” expressing a longing for the imaginary ‘Golden Age’ of the past. Even Ben Brantley, who bends down and kisses Alessandrini’s ass every time he releases a new revue, was reduced to making excuses for him here, insisting that the fact the Alessandrini’s revue sucked was Broadway’s fault rather than his own.
Frankly, by this point the Forbidden Broadway franchise had become the Insane Clown Posse of hardcore Broadway snobs…the patently terrible thing that appeals to a certain fanatical subculture for reasons unrelated to its quality. I don’t wish to descend to Alessandrini’s level, but I honestly can’t imagine how anyone could possibly find this entertaining.