Kate McCarthy misses the days of the old-school crooner.
“I used to love to watch old Wayne Newton videos,” she explains of her infatuation with the overly tanned, hard-drinking, womanizing, macho musicians of the '50s and ‘60s. “I loved jazz and swing and big band music, and that led me to find cheesy ‘60s lounge music. Then somehow I ended up getting really into young Wayne Newton.”
While lounge acts may be harder to come by these days, for one night only (for now) McCarthy is reviving that era at the Cedar.
Ricky Lagoon: He Croons! is a comedy concert featuring a full-blown 10 person big band, fronted by McCarthy playing the role of Ricky Lagoon.
McCarthy, one of the Twin Cities’ most prolific character comedians, has built a following thanks to her monthly comedy/variety showcase, Who Is She?, where she hosts each show as a different character. While the set this Sunday will be Lagoon’s first “official” performance, the idea has been rolling around in McCarthy’s head for quite some time.
“Playing a slimy little man is not a stretch for me,” she says flatly when describing the impetus of Lagoon. “People love putting me in suits that don’t fit me very well, and unfortunately I’m pretty good at it. I did a crooner, Rat Pack-type character at Who Is She? with my hair all piled up and wet with gel. The idea just grew from there.”
Any character who gets his own headlining show deserves a good backstory, and McCarthy knows exactly who Ricky Lagoon is.
“He’s a swearing, slimy guy, full of machismo,” she says. “The kind of guy who believes himself to be just as big and just as good as a Bobby Darin or Frank Sinatra, only no one has ever heard of him. He has like 10 ex-wives, and has stories about getting into fisticuffs with Tony Bennett over who has a more velvety voice. He is the kind of guy who once made a plane turn around because he forgot his favorite tie in Malibu. Martin Scorsese wanted to do a biopic about him, but no one could match his bravado on screen.”
While the show will be full of jokes and comedy bits, McCarthy has brought in some very talented musicians to help make it a respectable concert, worthy of Lagoon’s time.
“Colby Hansen and Tony Arias are two very talented musicians who agreed to arrange our music,” she explains. “It’ll be a lampoon, but we also want people to hear Ricky perform a ballad and feel like it’s kind of sweet.”
It’s unknown if McCarthy, a senior of the University of Minnesota, will ever don the hair gel and tuxedo for a full-fledged concert after this weekend. But to hear her talk about it, this may not be the end of Ricky Lagoon.
“I’d love to perform karaoke tracks on other people’s shows as Ricky,” she says excitedly. “For now I’m just excited to perform some songs and tickle the senses. I really can’t believe I have the opportunity to do something so unique with such talented people.”
IF YOU GO:
Ricky Lagoon: He Croons!
Sunday, May 5
Cedar Cultural Center
Doors 7 p.m., Show 7:30 p.m.
$8; all ages
Click here for tickets