From “Glee” to the Café Carlyle: Jane Lynch Won’t Stop Singing

The comedian prepares for her new cabaret show with Kate Flannery.

Jane Lynch is one of the great gay comedians of our time. Think about it: There’s her Emmy-winning turn on Glee, her genius role as Jennifer Coolidge’s lover and dog-handler in Best in Show, and—of course—Miss Hannigan in Annie on Broadway.

To see Lynch live is the rare opportunity to see a queer legend pour it out onstage. And while it may not be apparent from the criminally few numbers she was given on Glee, Lynch has got some serious pipes. Her holiday album, A Swingin’ Little Christmas, peaked at number 10 on Billboard, and since its release, she’s performed across the country, accompanied by her musical soul-sister Kate Flannery (Meredith on The Office).

When we found out Lynch and Flannery would be putting on a cabaret show, Two Lost Souls, at New York City’s Café Carlyle, we just had to get the story of how this one-of-a-kind act came to be.

What’s the story of how you and Kate Flannery met?

We met in Chicago at the Annoyance Theater, which was just getting started then. She was at Second City about the same time I was touring. And then when we got to L.A. We kept in touch, of course. Part of the whole Chicago sketch comedy contingent. Any time we would do shows, which was a lot, she’d sing a song. So we built up a repertoire. And then we’d do charity events, and I had done Annie on Broadway, and 54 Below—a cabaret space in New York—offered me four nights to do my show. I didn’t have much, so I called Kate. And we’ve been touring together ever since.

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Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery perform Swingin Little Christmas in NYC, 2017.

And you two wrote the show together?

Yeah. This is the first time we’re doing Two Lost Souls. I actually just came from rehearsal with her. Before this we did a show called See Jane Sing. Then the past three years, we’ve done a tour for A Swingin’ Little Christmas, and it did very well. Kate and I have always wanted to do the Café Carlyle. We pitched them an idea, and they gave us a date. We’ve been putting it together for the past two or three months.

Without spoiling anything, are you able to share some of your pitch?

We listed some songs we wanted to do, and said at the end that it’s “just like the Rat Pack except for broads.” We’ll be doing songs of that era for the most part. I’m precise and Kate is spontaneous. It’s a good dynamic.

You sang on Glee. Did you always want to make music part of your career at some point?

I don’t know that I thought it would be a part of my career. I never had that goal. I really never have had any goals, I’ve just dealt with things as they rolled into my sheet, as they say. But when the opportunity to do Annie came up, I was thrilled. And I loved being onstage. I hadn’t been in decades. It was thrilling to be in an ensemble. Working with the same people and going through that experience together, I just love it. That’s what I got into theater to do.
 

You have a significant amount of stage experience from your time in Chicago, but do you still get nervous?

The only thing that makes me nervous is when something’s new. So doing those Christmas shows is a damn joy. But Two Lost Souls—once we get our new stuff, and our banter down, it’ll be fine. But this show’s got me nervous right now. I also feel a bit put upon, too: Why do I have to learn this? Why can’t I just know it now?

What musicians inspired you as you created Two Lost Souls?

I listen to a lot of Chet Baker these days. I really love the trumpet. I listen to Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. I put them up on my Pandora.
 

If you can choose a favorite set experience? Party Down, Glee

I’ll say Party Down. It was a half-hour comedy. The network was never around. We did it very boot-campy. There were no frills.

Two Lost Souls will run from September 11-22. Get tickets here.

Hilton Dresden is a writer, illustrator, and dancing toad working with outlets including Out, Paper, and them. SJP once said he has “big beautiful blue eyes.”
@hiltondresden