Comedian Eliot Glazer is Giving a 'Haunting Rendition' of 'Mambo No. 5'

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Illustration by Hilton Dresden

Eliot Glazer makes people cry singing Kesha medleys.

The comedian, writer, and musician hosts a musical event, Haunting Renditions, every couple months at The Bell House, in Brooklyn, and in the latest installment of his hit revue, he’ll be joined by his sister Ilana, of Broad City fame, and Jon Glaser, a comedian friend (Girls, Late Night With Conan O’Brien) with a last name of the same pronunciation, to put on a very special edition of Renditions: the All Glazer Edition.

“One of my favorite things is when people come up to me after the show, and we’ve performed a song that’s super dumb, but we’ve orchestrated it to sound melodramatic, and my singing hopefully elevates it to that place where it does make you feel different,” Glazer told Out.

Haunting Renditions loosely follows the mission of making “bad songs good”: they take campy, Now-stalgia (“just before the current zeitgeist”) and arrange it in gorgeous, fresh, ballad-y compositions.

“We put together a whole library that runs the gamut—there’s songs by Dave Matthews Band, we do 'Mambo No. 5,' we do George Michael. There’s at least 25 songs in the canon,” he said.

Glazer’s from Long Island, where he grew up performing and goofing around with his sister, listening to music intended more for adults than awkward tweens: Erykah Badu, Steely Dan, Billy Joel—all while explaining to his peers his avid admiration of the “shitty rock bands” of the time. Think Nickelback-era ripped jeans and splatter-paint album covers.

He attended NYU, first on a scholarship to pursue classical opera, until he decided he’d rather pursue a career in television and comedy.

“Classical music is such a high art, and such a niche thing, and I realized I really didn’t have any interest in making music my whole life in a professional capacity," he said. "I like doing it in an extracurricular way. But I didn’t foresee that it would become my live performance calling card. But it has, and I’m glad.”

Soon after graduating, Glazer began taking classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade, alongside his sister and their future collaborator, Abbi Jacobson (Broad City). As a sibling duo, the Glazers started a sketch show, “High School Talent Show,” ingratiating themselves into the worlds of New York standup, sketch, and improv. Along with Jacobson and three or four of their friends, they also formed an improv team, performing in basements and dive bars around the city.

“I started heading on a more standup route—we both did standup, but different niches, in a way," Glazer said. "We were both doing digital web series and creating digital content. And from there Ilana and Abbi met Amy, and that’s how Broad City came about. And sort of parallel to that I started writing for a show called Younger.”

Now bicoastal, Glazer’s got a packed plate of creative outlets: in addition to Younger, he’s a writer on New Girl and currently working with Will Arnett on a half-hour pilot for Comedy Central, as yet untitled.

“The idea is that it’s a sort of gay 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,'" he said. "Sort of an irreverent, actually funny version of 'Looking' that I hope will have broad appeal, because it’s not about a gay guy, it’s about a guy who happens to be gay. And a botched wedding proposal that turns his world upside down.”

Glazer also produces the web series “Eliot’s Sketchpad”—if you’ve never seen it, begin by watching this hilarious video about gay dogs. He’s also slated to perform standup at the Hell Yes Fest in New Orleans this October.

Glazer hopes to bring visibility of queer persons to a more wide-reaching audience.

“I think my overall thing is that there’s something very powerful in using your gifts or talents or skill set as something that comes before your sexuality, but your sexuality is also you," he said. "When we use our talents, it empowers minorities, because it helps us to realize that we’re not just one thing, we’re a dynamic, fully-rounded person. And I think that writing about that, or writing about something else, or performing about that or something else, is the reason that empowers someone else to realize that they aren’t just gay, they can be whatever they want.”

Visibility has become especially important in light of the current national situation, which troubles Glazer immensely.

“I do feel like we are living a nightmare right now, and I can’t believe, and I’m so upset by, the idea that in 2016 watching a game show host be a heartbeat away from the presidency just by unifying people through pure racism, and bigotry, misogyny, ethnocentrism, provincialism—seeing this game show host reveal the worst qualities that Americans have is so deeply upsetting to me that it’s actually hard to talk about," he said. "The idea that Trump is a legitimate political candidate is just terrifying. If he wins even 1 percent of the vote on election day, I think that’s a real shame.”

Haunting Renditions comes to the Bell House in Brooklyn this Saturday, Sept. 17, at 9 p.m.

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