Cumming and Going

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 28 2009 12:30 PM ET

ALAN CUMMING X560 (NED STRESEN/REUTER) | ADVOCATE.COM

What would be surprising about the peripatetic Alan Cumming catching a cab in New York City as our interview about his CD and show of the same name -- I Bought a Blue Car Today -- is about to start? “I have this crazy shirt on,” he says, as he provides the cabbie with the desired destination -- “the Century Club on 43rd” -- and asks Brian, his assistant, to (what else?) assist with the cuffs of the shirt. “I have one hand on the phone so it’s hard to do my sleeve. It looks like the shirt has cuff links, but it doesn’t.” He tells Brian, “No, the other way.”

Of Cumming’s newish show, The New York Times raved that the multidisciplined artist “exudes the fabulousness of a brash showbiz kid.” It is only the most recent credit on a résumé that traverses from major motion pictures to edgy indie with the rambunctiousness of a cab ride in midtown Manhattan.

Advocate.com: Tell us about I Brought a Blue Car Today.
Alan Cumming: It tells the story about me coming to America. I’ve chosen songs because I want to act them and they illustrate the points of what I’m talking about, connecting with the audience in a way that I haven’t before. It’s very personal; the songs are chosen so that you think they are me even though I only wrote one of them. The audience can easily imagine that the songs have something to do with my life.

Did the live show evolve out of the CD?
I use a voice that is mine; I don’t have a character to hide behind. I try to infuse the songs with myself. When playing a character, I’m doing what the character is doing. This is my own voice.

Do you anticipate a difference between East and West Coast sensibility?
I’ve done the show in New York, Sydney, London. Wherever you go in the world, people are different. The show is very old-fashioned. I sing some songs and tell some stories. People get my jokes. The show is an extension of me as a person; an extension of what the public knows of me. So if you don’t like me, you’re gonna hate me.

[Cumming’s voice is abruptly gone. We’ve lost our connection. Maybe it’s the fault of the shirt machinations. Or simply a New York traffic disconnect. After a few minutes, we reconnect.]

Tags: film

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