“The vibe is going to be megachurch but harmless.”
Such were the words that comedian Bowen Yang used to open the second annual Las Culturistas Culture Awards, a celebration (and satirization) of all things pop culture. Yang and “Las Culturistas” podcast co-host Matt Rogers lit up Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park for the next 90 minutes in a show that featured clever song-and-dance numbers, perfectly parodic comedy and a bevy of cameos from some of show business’ boldest talents. The event is part of Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City, a seasonal arts festival that invites New Yorkers to experience music, dance, theater and comedy—almost entirely for free.
The Culture Awards are sure to be a highlight of the Lincoln Center programming, as lines of dedicated Las Culturistas listeners stretched around the block. Fans cheered at glimpses of Yang and Rogers backstage, rumors circulating up and down the line of who the special guests at the show would be. Usual suspects included Yang’s fellow SNL writers and cast members Ego Nwodim, Sarah Sherman and Celeste Yim, as well as faces of queer comedy like Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson, Pat Regan and Patti Harrison.
The night featured memorable performances of each of the five “Record of the Year” nominees, ranging from a stirring take on Céline Dion’s “If You Asked Me To” by the cast of the Off-Broadway show Titanique to Patti Harrison’s absurdist, appendicitis-ridden rendition of “Padam Padam” by Kylie Minogue. Several big names sent in recorded acceptance speeches to the event: Cate Blanchett, whose performance in Tár won her the Cate Blanchett Award for Good Acting, threw confetti in the air and cheered; Andy Cohen declared that his award for Best Gay Guy—Famous gave him the confidence to be even more gay; The Traitors‘ Alan Cumming dramatically monologued about his win for Outstanding Reality Competition Host; and Ariana Grande submitted a video of her reciting a speech by Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest for her win in the category of Allison Williams Cool Girl Award. The stars embraced the silliness of this headlining event, making it a massive moment for Lincoln Center’s fledgling summer festival.
For those who want in on the Summer for the City action, Lincoln Center’s programming continues until August 12. National Queer Theater is putting on several plays and staged readings for Pride Month, and Jazz at Lincoln Center is peppering the summer with shows. July boasts an extensive Korean Arts Week, featuring everything from traditional Korean dances to visual arts to the pop culture juggernaut that is K-Pop. August features a lengthy tribute to hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, connecting its Bronx roots to its global reach.
The BAAND Together Dance Festival will unite five of the city’s major dance companies (Ballet Hispánico, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem) across five programs, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra will be playing over a dozen programs with special conductors and soloists. Events are either free or choose-what-you-pay, as Lincoln Center works to make these classical arts more accessible.
Whether a night at the orchestra or dancing at a silent disco suits your fancy, Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City has you covered. The programming reflects New York as it was and as it is now, embracing the diversity that the city has to offer while making the arts approachable and readily available.