Hoffman's taut 60-minute set, co-written with her director Michael Schiralli and her musical director Bobby Peaco, is chock-full of new material even as it covers familiar ground. Once again, Hoffman eagerly displays her utter hatred of children (which I suspect is only slightly exaggerated for comic purposes) and her obsessions with pharmaceuticals and medical conditions.
In fact, the act partially revolves her recent hysterectomy, which revealed to Hoffman's supposed horror that she didn't have a cancerous tumor. The operation caused her to take a leave of absence from Manhattan Theatre Club's Regrets Only and she expresses her outrage that she was forced to briefly give up her "$120 a week" paycheck. (She also has some less-than-kind words for that show's audience.)
Hoffman is best when she's spewing venom or otherwise eviscerating those who offend her. No ethnic or religious group is safe from her hatred, though she's just as mean as to her own tribe (the Jews) as she is anyone else. Not only does she venture into Michael Richards territory, she actually invokes his name as a set-up. It is possible that some audience members will actually be upset by her tirades, though others will simply be laughing too hard to care.
The act also contains a few funny if pointed barbs lobbed at fellow celebrities, including one particularly pungent dig at Barbra Streisand. But, as in all comic acts, not everything lands. Indeed, a section on her experiences in San Diego co-starring in The Sisters Rosensweig falls particularly flat.
Hoffman -- who displays a surprisingly strong singing voice -- might be advised to include more musical numbers in the act. Her anti-environmentalist screed -- in which, among other things, she advises us to eat and wear endangered species while we can -- is a highlight of the show. So is the hilarious musical monologue delivered by a typical Upper West Side wife. And her final, truly daring number, performed with a special surprise guest, has to be heard and seen to be believed.
I imagine Hoffman's act will be refined throughout its engagement at Joe's Pub, and the little bit of tentativeness she displayed on opening night will likely disappear by next week. Even if this isn't all A-plus stuff, Jackie with a Z is definitely worth an hour of your time.