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The Last Thursday Ever

Ah, another exhausting ride on the Kiki & Herb express train to madness. Brilliant as ever, last night's one-night show at Knitting Factory (also featuring the hot and fun and sassy Scissor Sisters) was a little more off-the-cuff than their twice-yearly productions, but a performance of theirs never degenerates into a simple drag-based covers show. No, a night with Kiki & Herb will always leave you shaky and spent, twitching from laughter and horror and emotional shock.

Last night's show loosely followed a theme of escaping from the endless grind and put-downs of life. (Very timely, to say the least, and I’m not just talking about this season of Buffy again.) Kiki made a lot of bleak jokes about this being our last weekend ever ("Thank you for spending your last Thursday night ever with Herb and I...What a Memorial Day this is gonna be!") and they earnestly and ferociously launched into a set pulling together songs and medleys of songs that railed against the ongoing pain and misery of life, and pondering the various ways to escape it: "No More Drama," "Heroin," "Walk on the Wild Side," "Creep," "Boys Don't Cry," "Get and Stay Famous," and an incredible reading of "Howl." (And keep in mind, this is all incredibly funny at the same time it's making you want to slit your own throat in a fit of existential anguish.)

Kiki & Herb are not just a drag act, or a cabaret covers act, or a novelty. They're fun as all hell, campy and cutting and sloppy, but they're also musical geniuses, and powerful performers. Every time I’ve seen them there's something — some element of madness or pain or remorse — thay they suddenly suck you into, just when you're laughing your hardest, and they manage to remind you that the world is a big, hard, messy place with no easy answers and a lot of confused attempts to find some. But at the same time, you can't leave unhappy when they come on with an excore medley of Mary J. Blige, Wu Tang Clan, and Destiny's Child, with some Kate Bush tossed on at the end for a note of weary hope.

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