If you and your date happen to be in the vicinity of Lincoln Center late one Sunday night, and you’re beginning to find each other’s company somewhat taxing, I strongly suggest you go directly to O’Neal’s Baloon. As a resident of the West Side you will doubtless already be familiar with O’Neal’s virtues as restaurant/bar. What you may not know is that on Sunday night, at precisely 11:30, O’Neal’s turns into a cabaret, complete with lights, laughter and a smoky, all-enveloping cloud of bonhomie.
The quality of the talent at the Baloon, as at most cabaret/showcases, varies widely. But that’s part of the fun of it. You have to pay attention: a dud may be foIlowed by a star. And recently, thanks to the efforts of producer Marilyn Sachs, there’ve been more of the latter than the former. For instance, the comedy team of Franken and Davis, who put the audience in traction with their deadpan impression of a World War III newscast, that included a peppy, Tex Antoine-ish weather report (“. . . and if there’re any surfers left on the South Shore they can expect waves of up to 800 feet”). Other show-stoppers have included singers, guitarists, mimists, impressionists.
Another nice thing about the Baloon: it’s free.