You Can’t Do That in St. Louis

‘YOU CAN’T DO THAT IN ST. LOUIS’
– EPILOGUE
Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis MO

What happens when a professional drummer-singer turned songwriter turned
pianist turned graphic artist turned art director turned amateur comic,
turned web merchant teams up with a dog named Shep and a pony named Merlin
and decides to take the dinner theater circuit by storm and then realizes
that dinner theaters have been out of vogue for 20 years? Well he might
want to try selling the horse first off. But actually I don’t know.
It’s an interesting scenario though on a certain level. One through
which we may all learn a lesson about life, love and one another. On
the other hand maybe it’s just a silly introduction to this web
site. In any case, if you’d like to learn more about Alan Oxenhandler
and his first ever comedy & music concert at the Sheldon Concert
Hall in St. Louis, Missouri, please read on!

(Actually folks, I gotta tellya, it’s me writing this column, Al Oxenhandler).
But that’s okay. I’m alright with this. It’s humbling doing your own promotion.
And hey, humble pie is spiritually nutritious, yum! Even as I am writing this,
I feel elevated just knowing that the little me, my ego is diminished!

If you’ve been around St. Louis MO for awhile, you may have heard me play in
groups going back to the 1970’s. Or, you might have heard me sing at a piano
bar or two. You may have ‘seen my name before’ in the Riverfront Times or Post.
That’s a line that I’ve heard allot over the years. ‘Oh yea, I see your name
in the paper all the time!’ And when people say it, they act as if I should
take it as a compliment. ‘Wow, you’ve seen my name. Thank you. That’s really
nice! Now if I may ask, why didn’t you ever get off your ass and come in to
HEAR ME PLAY?’ I’ve performed in places such as Caleco’s, the Palm Beach and
Lido Cafes, The Fedora Cafe in Union Station as well as several years at the
Cheshire Inn and the Ritz Carlton St. Louis. These were all great gigs. Except
the gig at Union Station. That was for 6 nights a week and six hours a night
and it was noisy as hell. I felt like I was working Silver Dollar City or Knot’s
Berry Farm with that one.

But the point is- and you KNEW there was one here somewhere— I had always
wanted to perform comically. (Which is actually how I’ve felt when I’ve had
to play Andrew Lloyd Weber by request). But not THAT way. Just me and a ‘mic’.
And I guess that all started when I was a kid. I was mesmerized by comedians
back then. Those guys that did the funny stuff on TV. Steve Allen on his own
show. He was a brilliant goofball I loved to watch. And the guy was a great
jazz pianist and songwriter… That’s what amazed me about him. That he could
turn around from his funny personality and just kill on the keyboard doing
an original jazz tune, a GOOD jazz tune. Louie Nye, with his rubbery features,
who seemed to be begging for a shred of sympathy from the audience for his
sorry state with the threat of him melting into a pool of tears or at least
having a nervous breakdown if we didn’t laugh– and we always did… The serious
zany-ness of Sid Caesar. Jonathan Winters. Maybe the funniest being ever. I
was drawn into them. I wanted to ‘do dat too! Can I do dat! Huh please please
huh can I can I?’ I thought I could. Well, I did eventually get a reputation
as a sort of class clown and for awhile I’d settle for cutting up with
friends at school and family.

But life happens. There were other things that I loved doing like singing and
playing the drums. I was singing in ensembles when I was ten, and playing in
groups by the time I was 14 and doing gigs. Maybe playing music is the heart
of life or maybe its one of life’s greatest distractions. Or maybe it’s neither.
Or it could be both. Hell I don’t know. What are you asking me for? Don’t you
have something to do??? Anyway, when the sixties happened I discovered that
I couldn’t wear my hair in a Beatle mop. Very frustrating. My hair was more
kinky than slinky. But I could sing their songs! And sing their songs I did!
From Natchez to Mobile. From Memphis to St. Joe… Wherever the four winds…
Actually, I really didn’t leave the St. Louis area very much. But I love that
line, ‘from Natchez to Mobile’ –great.

Anyway, add about 30 more years to the above and that brings us to the present.
Just weeks since the project I heaped upon myself and performed called, YOU
CANT DO THAT IN ST. LOUIS. Some of my friends thought I’d bitten off a bit
of a big chunk if not more than I could chew. “Alan, why don’t you just
start off the show with music? You KNOW MUSIC. You’re GOOD at music. If you
begin to implode with the standup, you’ll have nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide!
Don’t be a shmegegge!” That’s what I’ve been told. But that
isn’t the way we do things around here, mister! And by the way, where
the HELLARWE? Though I hadn’t performed standup professionally until the above
gig, I had done it in open-mic nights in comedy clubs for more than a decade
and I had jostled with rowdy customers around piano bars for twenty years.
And since I spent more than a year working on the show in writing and rehearsing,
I knew I was ready for my own concert (which was performed on November 18th
2003). BESIDES, WE ALL HAVE TO BE A LITTLE BIT DARING ONCE IN AWHILE, right?
Right.

And now in retrospect, (and if you’ve ever had your spec retro’d you know what
I mean), I will say that it was all worth it. Hell, I AM saying it!. I’ve
never worked on such a gratifying project. All the great response charged me
up and I’m really gassed about doing the next one… (Or maybe it’s just acid
reflux!)

-Alan