As the 21st Century rolls on, Ricki Derek has made sure that North Texas keeps one foot firmly planted in the heart of the 20th Century. For more than a decade, his standing Sunday night lounge gig at the Cavern Club has proven the perfect nightcap for the weekend as he rolls through big band and swing classics. The Night “Oh” Cabaret variety show that he produces with Nick Gibbons has preserved the humor from that era as well.
On Saturday night, the Night “Oh” Cabaret celebrates 10 (and a half) years with an anything goes show at the Lakewood Theater. The event that Derek describes as a “hipped out vaudeville show” will feature music from his seven-piece band and special guest Liz Mikel as well as video bits, sketches from Dana Snyder of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame, juggling and some “Cirque du Soleil type stuff.”
During a phone conversation Thursday afternoon, Derek pulled back the curtain on the show:
For those who have seen your Cavern Club and Scat Jazz Lounge shows but have never been to the Night “Oh” Cabaret, what can they expect?
Ricki Derek: It’s the same attitude in the sense that I like to jack around and have fun, so it’s loose like that. But it’s more of a comedy/variety show with some music in it than it is me performing. I do a few songs, but it’s not a concert, it’s a show. I always say it’s like the Dean Martin Show meets Saturday Night Live meets Mr. Show. I always say it’s not your great granddad’s show, unless he’s super hip, and then it could be.
How did the idea for Night-Oh-Cabaret come about in the first place?
R.D.: I was doing my one-man show at the Cavern on Greenville, and we were packing them in, and they said let’s do another night. I just couldn’t see doing the same shtick twice a week in the same place, so I was like, “I’ll do it, but I want to do a different feel.”
How much of the show is scripted, and how much is improvised?
R.D.: For a show like this where we’re not asking for five bucks, or it’s a free deal, we feel an obligation to [prepare] a little bit. But there’s certainly some improve and some swagger and some see what happens. It’s got an ebb and flow, but there’s some technical people who need to know what’s going to happen.
So I’ve been enjoying watching the tractor-pullesque commercial you guys put together for the show.
R.D.: It just totally doesn’t make sense for this kind of show. That’s what’s great about it.
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to see a baby with a dirty diaper in a commercial for a classy cabaret show.
R.D.: For the record, I’m trying to hone that stuff in, and Nick keeps sticking it in there. I’m the guy who probably tries to keep it more Sinatra show, old school, and he’s the one trying to push the envelope.