Known for his solo shows of Noel Coward and Flanders & Swann, Stefan Bednarczyk is back at The Crazy Coqs performing his new show, “BEYOND A JOKE”.
He says he now focuses on ‘the rest of his education’, and some of the other influences on his development during his early teens, many of whom had records “Humour” section of his local record shop in the 1970’s.
Opening with a nice unexpected take on Second Hand Rose, the tone of surprise and wit is set for the evening.
Apparently, Tom Lehrer had a theory that folk songs were particularly atrocious because they were written by the people, and had they been written by professional songwriters, they would have had far more merit. Bednarczyk goes on to display his versatility in taking the song My Darling Clementine to render each verse in the styles of Cole Porter, Mozart, jazz and Gilbert &Sullivan.
Gershwin’s music is featured, but the evening is largely given over to Allan Sherman, the political parodies of Tom Lehrer, whose songs are almost shockingly relevant today, even though many were written in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, and the keenly observed social commentary of the far less renowned Jake Thackeray.
Thackeray was a Yorkshireman, with a humour as black and dry as dust, whose cannon deserves to be much better known. As Bednarczyk himself says, the narratives run like a one-act play, the lyrics of which are quite often somewhat rude e.g. Beware the Bull and the sardonic yet tender Lah-Di-Dah.
For Lehrer lovers, we were treated to his Masochism Tango, Vatican Rag written in response to Vatican ll) and the wonderfully witty Oedipus Rex. There were also songs from Alan Plater’s Close the Coal House Door, composed by Alex Glasgow aka the Bard of Tyneside. This part included one of my favourites of the night, As Soon As This Pub Closes.
Bednarczyk would be the first to admit his voice, whilst enjoyable and flexible, is not the strongest in the business, and he confessed to feeling a little ‘second nighty’ the evening I saw him, but his performances are always highly engaging and a lesson in lyric delivery – sharp, pinpointed with crisp articulation with a light or biting touch, as the situation demands. And all with immensely skillful, atmospheric and at times virtuoso self-accompaniment on the piano.
If these vicious lyrics were his early influences, he must indeed be a bit twisted! A delight, as ever.