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February 28, 2013 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-02-28

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arts & entertainment

wiggles For Gilda

Grand Rapids Laughfest performer
pays tribute to Gilda Radner.

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February 28 • 2013



Suzanne Chessler

Contributing Writer

rancesca Amari has two mis-
sions as she tours with her
cabaret show, You Make Me
Laugh! A Love Song to Gilda Radner.
The first has to do with entertain-
ing audiences through story and
music in tribute to the late comedian,
who grew up in Michigan's Jewish
community and became a star on
Saturday Night Live.
The second involves educating
people to maintain the Gilda's Club
name for support groups scattered
around the country. Established in
honor of Radner and her struggles
with cancer, some branches are
changing their names to Cancer
Support Community.
Amari, a continuing Radner fan
who grew up in Michigan and whose
parents died of cancer, will pres-
ent her show when she joins the
lineup for Gilda's LaughFest, 10 days
of entertainment events to benefit
Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.
The annual festival, which runs
March 8-18, also spotlights the
talents of Jewish humorists Alan
Zweibel, longtime Radner friend and
former SNL writer; Lewis Black; Myq
Kaplan; and Amy Schumer.
While audiences can take part in
adventure challenges, they also can
watch many other stars, including
Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short,
Kevin Nealon and Sinbad.
Amari appears Thursday evening,
March 14, at the Wealthy Theatre,
where she will describe a number of
elements in her own life that paral-

Francesca Amari:
"I'm proud that my show
describes who Gilda was."

lel what she has learned about the
comedian she recalls. Amari, whose
maternal grandparents were Jewish,
understands Radner's religious out-
look and touches upon it.
"I'm very clear when I start my
show that I'm not there to imper-
sonate Gilda," says Amari, 51, in a
phone conversation from her home
in California. "While I do perform
hints of her, I take highlights from
her life and present music that tells
that story.
"When she had her first major
professional audition in Toronto,
she sang 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah: and
I sing that as part of describing the
experience. I comment on Gilda's
falling head-over-heels in love with
Gene Wilder and sing 'Zing! Went
the Strings of My Heart. She per-
formed 'Tap Your Troubles Away'
with the Muppets, and I recall the
Amari, who has lived in Battle
Creek and Grand Rapids, was enter-

Picky, Picky from page 56

Q: Is there anything about Brian
that's different from what you envi-
sioned when making the list?
A: The only thing that didn't fit my
list is he isn't from Chicago. That's
really the only thing. It's eerie — he'll
say it's like I conjured him because he's
exactly what's on this list.
Once I decided it was OK to make
the list — and I had confidence to
implement it — it was empowering. I
should be as picky as anyone. I didn't
want to get married and wind up in a
divorce or a so-so marriage. It's a huge
part of your life.
I'd been concerned that, in making

such a specific list and refusing to con-
sider anyone who didn't add up, point-
wise, I'd be so severely limiting myself
that I wouldn't go out at all.
After I made the list I really didn't
[go out much]. Until I met Brian.

Q: It seems like a lot of people dat-
ing in big cities like New York, Los
Angeles and Jerusalem can be really
picky and perfectionist. Isn't it a
little dangerous to tell us we can find
exactly — precisely — whom we are
looking for based on a list?
A: I was not interested in finding a
bigger, better deal. As long as you want

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