The singing, songwriting twins known professionally as jackbenny (and individually as Jack and Benny Lipson) have set up monthly residency at Silver Lake’s Lyric Hyperion Café, guaranteeing audiences two hours a month of original music, laughter, an occasional cover, and a guest artist (or two or three) to spice up the already savory mix.

 The offspring of Broadway performer turned celebrity photographer Cliff Lipson and musical theater star Valerie Perri, Jack and Benny Lipson are making a name for themselves as multi-talented performers in their own right as Sunday’s fifth in a series of monthly cabarets made abundantly clear from the opening notes of “This National Holiday” celebrating National Sing-A-Song Day (and other equally fête-worthy days), its lyrics revealing from the get-go jackbenny’s mastery of quirky melodies and clever rhymes (“I know it’s hard to act all patriotic when the president is idiotic … and neurotic”), featuring Jack on piano and Benny on double bass and giving a certain songwriting Sondheim a run for his money.

 Proving, in their own words, that “comedy isn’t so dead, and storytelling isn’t so dead, and songwriting isn’t so dead,” jackbenny followed the show-opener with the jazzy, daringly discordant “Happiness Is Trending” and the samba-flavored “Let It Out! (The Bee In Your Bonnet)” before inviting Mom onstage to join them in one of the evening’s two non-original compositions, the Lennon-McCartney standard “Help” given a sizzling jackbenny sound like it’s never had before.

Providing additonal unannounced guest artist pizzazz at the July 8 show were Jonathan Reinhart (out of his “Anita Procedure” drag and a stunner in his own right) for jackbenny’s signature “Asking/Queer” (“When did you first know that you were gay? Asking for a friend.”) and Jesse McGinty on trumpet and tenor sax for “The Warmth Of A Stranger,” a number I’m told was performed the month before in three-part harmony by surprise guests The Bombshells, just one reason each monthly installment of jackbenny’s Lyric Hyperion residency is different from the one before.

 Each new jackbenny show features at least one debuting song, in 5.0’s case the provocative “When Starting With Consent,” which had a #metoo-aware Benny proclaiming “Before I went in for her kiss, I asked for her consent” and Jack echoing with his own “I asked for his consent,” and like just about every number of the evening’s bill, featured the talented and personable Theo Seidmon on percussion.

Later, “To Rewrite Our Father’s Story” had Theo on 4-mallet marimba with Jack on drums, “Puppy” gave Benny the chance to accompany himself on piano, and “It’s Not Cool (To Be Cool Anymore)” had all three musicians on a single marimba.

 With each new jackbenny show different from the one before with newly added songs and new arrangements of old favorites, it’s easy to see why the Lipson brothers keep on attracting repeat visitors.

Not only that, but rarely has an L.A. theater audience been more generation-bridging than jackbenny’s, ranging in age from 20somethings to septuagenarians and everything in between.

I had a sensational time at my first jackbenny show and if my schedule permits, it won’t be the last.

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The Lyric Hyperion Theatre, 2106 Hyperion Avenue, Silver Lake.

–Steven Stanley
July 8, 2018
Photos: Cliff Lipson


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