British people make drinking an essential part of the Christmas season, so New Yorker Tori Scott is going to fit right in. Scott returns to London with her hilarious show, Vodka is the Reason for the Season, December 18, 19 and 22 at London’s swanky Brasserie Zedel.
The Huffington Post is a fan, calling Scott’s comedy “sharp” and her show “soul-baring,” and she was named one of Time Out New York’s Top 10 cabaret artists. If you’re also into Dolly Parton, you like a good elf story, and enjoy family, gay cruises and, well you’re going to have to be vodka-friendly, then this is the show for you.
Written by Scott and Adam Hetrick, Vodka is the Reason for the Season is directed by Broadway veteran Seth Sklar-Heyn (Miss Saigon, Evita) with musical direction by Jesse Kissel (The Visit and Leap of Faith). Scott is produced in the UK by Robin Rayner.
Tori Scott sat down with Pop Culture Beast for a chat about what makes her tick, what makes her merry and what makes her drink.
Hi Tori, and thanks for speaking with PCB. This is a Christmas show – what’s your relationship with the holidays?
I have a complicated relationship with Christmas. I love Christmas music, I love going to Christmas parties (…drinking!), and I love holiday movies. That’s the extent of it. The family part is stressful because my family doesn’t always see eye to eye when it comes to that dreaded word: politics. The giving of gifts also stresses me out. It’s never fun to go Christmas shopping for family members on a budget and my entire adult life has been on a budget. Doing a show like Vodka is the Reason for the Season is the perfect way to describe my love/hate relationship with this time of year and the need to drink vodka to get through it all.
Agreed. Do you also think people go too far with Christmas?
Yes! I’ll admit that I started listening to the Kelly Clarkson Christmas album before the end of October this year, which is far too early. It’s been a strange year politically and I needed some joy in my life! But, Christmas is a bit out of control more and more each year. I discuss a lot in my show about how the whole Santa charade is taken too far these days…having seen it first hand with my sister and her kids.
And, what’s your relationship with vodka?
We are in a long term relationship. It’s going well. We have our ups and downs, but we know each other really well and know when we need a break from each other before it becomes too co-dependent. It’s one of my strongest relationships.
Congrats! Tell us about Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and your thoughts on Dolly Parton?
First of all, Best Little Whorehouse is a MUSICAL… about a whorehouse. So, that right there should be enough for you to just watch it immediately. The first time I saw it, I was very young and watched with my older sister and her friends. I was mesmerized with the dancing and mesmerized with Dolly’s performance and I wasn’t even old enough to really understand it. Dolly Parton is the Madame of this brothel and she’s a smart business woman who doesn’t get the respect she deserves and has to fight against the crazy Christian right saying that what they are doing at the brotherl is obscene. I genuinely believe prostitution should be legal and I know it stems from my love of this movie! Oh, and Burt Reynolds is in it! I mean it’s a win win.
The interesting thing with Dolly Parton is that people are very quick to just make a judgement about her based on her looks. But, she is a brilliant songwriter. Her music is so stunning and powerful. I think she is complete perfection.
In addition to regular shows in New York and cities across the US, have you performed in the UK previously?
I performed in London and Brighton for the first time this past summer. In July, I was at (Brasserie) Zedel as well as the Marlborough Theatre in Brighton. It was an incredible experience. I had no idea what to expect because I had never been to the UK before. I found the audiences to be incredible and really along for the ride. The shows were packed and the response was more than I could have hoped for. I love London. I had the best time in the city and looking forward to being back! I’m going to see my first Panto while I’m in town. And, up until recently, I thought all pantomime was with actual mimes so this is going to be a very new experience for me. I can’t wait!
You’ve done your show on gay cruise ships – describe that experience.
It’s a week on a ship surrounded by thousands of wonderful gay men! Every night is a different theme party with some of the most amazing costumes and you get to go to fabulous destinations like the Caribbean. It’s definitely a dream gig. Not to mention I get to perform throughout the week and meet people from all over the world. What’s been really amazing is to meet all of the fabulous men and then have them come out see my shows whether in New York or elsewhere in the US. There are even some that are coming to my show in London! I’m very lucky. Not to mention it helps me get more material for future shows.
The Huffington Post described Vodka is the Reason as “soul-baring” – how far does this show go? And how far do you go with your personal relationships?
I think it’s so important to be able to laugh at yourself. That’s how you can get past things or heal from things and move on. And honesty is funny! I find that it is therapeutic for me to be on stage and discuss something personal or embarrassing in a comedic way and have people laugh. But as personal as I get, everyone can relate to these stories.
So is it easier to “confess” onstage and keep it more private in real life?
We’ve all been in situations where we have made a bad personal decision and continue to spiral in shame about it. We’ve all had those embarrassing dating experiences or those awkward family conversations. There are things in my life that haven’t made it to the stage, but that just means not enough time has passed. Comedy is, as they say, tragedy + time. So, who knows what I’ll be ready to talk about next year.
Are your parents still around, and have they seen the show?
My mom is a huge fan of my shows. And, even though there are some shows where I do make fun of her and our relationship, she really enjoys the attention! She’s such a free spirit and is very proud of me for creating this life for myself and for this insane path I’ve chosen. My dad, unfortunately, passed away when I was 19. That’s one thing I have yet to touch on in my shows. Maybe enough time will never pass really to talk to people about that on stage? But, it’s made me stronger and more appreciative of life. I’d like to think that he would enjoy my show. I’d like to think he would laugh the loudest.
What would you like us to know going in, and for the audience to take away?
This is not your typical Christmas show, but I hope everyone comes in ready to go on a bit of a wild ride and leave with a smile on their face and a little bit drunk.
Catch Vodka is the Reason for the Season at Soho’s Brasserie Zedel, December 18, 19 at 9:15pm and December 22 at 7pm.
Tori Scott can be found here and on Twitter @itstoriscott
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.