Tyrants Onstage: Live Reviews

Los Angeles Times

“Artfully Bellying Up to the Bar Scene”
by Dianne Bates

Like a twisted Steve and Edie, the Tyrants can be engaging and controversial. Michael J and AbbeAbbe have been performing in L.A. for more than 10 years at clubs like Genghis Cohen, Canter’s Kibitz Room and The Garage. Unlike most other performance artists, the Tyrants have made many records and CDs and found commercial success on the dance club circuit. This is a group born on the club circuit that is riding the tide

Music Connection

The Tyrants in Therapy
Taix’s 321 Lounge, Echo Park, CA
Sept 21,2009

Reviwed by Adam Pompili

The Players:  Michael J, vocals; Abbe/Abbe, vocals.

Material:  It is uncharacteristic of Music Connection to review comedy acts. However, this team, consisting of two veterans of music, comedy, film and television, shed new light on the mock-musical scene. The twosome blend hokey and sometimes circus-like music with an in-your-face comedic approach to some of our nation’s most debatable topics. The Tyrants in Therapy happily offend. Insult and make light of serious subjects for the sake of comedy. The contrast between anti-establishment statements and Hitler references performed to the sounds of polka backbeats, R&B grooves and rock & roll themes seems to always leave the crowd rolling with laughter and begging for more.

Musicianship:  Although the duo never plucks a string or beats a drum, they sing in fairly pleasant harmony. Michael J adds texture to the accompaniment by offering maracas along with salsa and reggae motifs, while Abbe/Abbe shows off her vocal ability on “Apocalypso.”

Performance:  The Tyrants are a polished comedy duo who understand their audience. The entire set was based on timing. With rarely a lull in the action, the two musical comedians playfully enjoyed their time on stage and acted out their characters with flawless certainty. Having their performance down to a science kept the pace between songs flowing from one genre to the next with small interludes to tell jokes and build for the next musical onslaught of comedic declarations.

Summary:  A group who has seen the best and worst of the entertainment industry, the Tyrants in Therapy are taking on Hollywood again, on their terms. These two likeable characters offer musical comedy as a side dish to a special brand of dark humor, leaving the audience hysterical and highly entertained.


Tyrants In Therapy @ Lumpy Gravy.
Tonight, a review about a duo that call themselves Tyrants In Therapy, an act that was described by a particularly vitriolic person I met recently as “a really cheesy new wave Sonny and Cher who sing to a DAT.”

I think this is a bit harsh. These two late thirty-some-things who call themselves the Tyrants are cabaret to the core. They try to amuse with their comedic shtick just as much as with their music. In this department the Sonny and Cher reference does seem apt. Lots of French language banter in one number, the blond male Tyrant abruptly turns from his Jewish Princess cohort to ask the audience “Why am I speaking FRENCH?”

Herky jerky, they goof off each other during the songs. It’s not exactly live but it’s certainly not karaoke. Our eclectic TITs broaden their already versatile repertoire with some New York reggae rock. (A lot of their stuff has a definite New York pop influence.)

Salty, savvy, but always good natured entertainment like Kid Creole, David Johansen, Debbie Harry and the like. Rendered with heavy irony and a glass of white wine for courage.

Their centerpiece seems to be this morality play set to music called Don’t Say Words Like That, an arrangement so deep and complex that they have to read it from a sheet of paper to prompt them for the overlapping lyrical duel: “Pot smoker… Karaoke Don’t say words like that. Hot pink slurpees… herpes… Don’t say those words Name droppers, Cherry poppers…Don’t say words like that to me Baby boomers… Brain tumors. Withdrawal. Move your bowels”

Greil Marcus gets the careers of Presley, Dylan and Johnny Rotten as his foils I get Tyrants In Therapy. According to Hindu precepts, I must have been reincarnated from someone especially wicked to have been dealt this lot in life maybe next time I’ll come back as someone really lucky JFK, Jr.

Music Connection

Tyrants In Therapy Canter’s Kibitz Room / West Hollywood
by Dianne Bates

The Players: Abbe Kanter, vocals; Michael Jaye, vocals Material: Tyrants in Therapy is a husband/wife duo who sing to DAT recorded backing tracks. Mike and Abbe present an entertaining, intelligent, cabaret-style act that is as theatrical as it is musical. The 13-song set ran the gamut from the danceable “Boy” to the decadent waltz “In the Shadow of Hitler,” to the silly faux-country tune “Honky Tonk Train Blues.” The Tyrants’ songs are smartly humorous and often cynical. “Don’t Say Words Like That,” starts off as a list of off-color words which eventually morphs into rhymes like “Disneyland,” and “in my pants,” “George Bush,” and “kiss my tush.” Musicianship: Tyrants use competent guest musicians such as Bobby Robles of Thee Midniters to pre-record their musical accompaniment. Needless to say, their sets are very tightly paced. Abbe has a strong, more polished voice. Michael talk/sings in a style reminiscent of Lou Reed. Their voices harmonize well. Performance: All things French are explored during the Tyrants’ brisk set. The couple are both playful and antagonistic toward each other and they engage in live and recorded bantering. Many of their tunes are prefaced by weird interstitial bits and commentary which slyly mock such questionable icons as Barbara Streisand and Barry White. Abbe wears dark clothes and little make-up. Michael wears color and lipstick. Abbe’s slow, moody rendering of Arthur Alexander’s “Anna” (from the Beatles’ first album) is haunting and both the duo and their audience have fun with their playful version of the erotic, breast-heaving 1969 hit, “Je T’aime.” “Why are we speaking French?” Michael innocently asks Abbe. Duh, it’s a French song. The audience cracks up. Summary: While it is unlikely that Tyrants in Therapy will ever play stadiums, their material is appealing to those weary of formula hits. With comedy films dominating the market right now, directors would be well advised to place Tyrants in Therapy tunes, just as they would Randy Newman’s or Jonathan Richman’s work, into the sort of projects that are in need of this type of material.