Tag : comedy

July 27, 2020 by

Comedy? You Bet!

LAURA BEATRIX NEWMARK is the Director of LABA at the 14th Street Y. Her work at the intersection of the arts, media, activism, community building and Jewish programming spans two decades.

At the 14th street Y’s LABA program, where artists study Jewish texts together and nurture their own work, we were supposed to do five nights of performances this spring—and we couldn’t. But we did put together a show—“Jewnight Show Pandemic Passover.” It was terrifying to do all this virtually.

It turns out we were ahead of the curve, as everything went virtual. Yet human beings need to be around people. It’s a nice interlude to provide theater virtually, but it’s hard not to connect in person.

In the meantime, to cope, I’ve been consuming comedy. We need it. From the beginning, the funny videos people post, the angst, the parodies are the only thing giving me comfort. The viral video of an Israeli mom complaining about having to homeschool (“Now, our children will find out how dumb we are. It’s not right!”) is a perfect example: comedy that gives us a release.

I had actually picked humor as the theme for LABA this year—we had a long discussion about how in Jewish humor there’s this balance between observant and profane, between intimacy and shared trauma; it’s all rooted in struggle. I think we are going to see interesting humor emerge. And just making people laugh is important.

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July 27, 2020 by

“Not That Jewish” •

At a Los Angeles kitchen table in 2007 three women hatched a plan to welcome and encourage contemporary stories by Jewish women and to adapt them theatrically, giving them life in front of a live audience. Harking back to the age-old idea of women hosting culture of the day in their homes, sparing the expense of a theater, sets, costumes, and props, Jewish Women’s Theatre focuses on presenting powerful stories in unexpected and convenient venues. Presentations include stories, poems, comedic monologues, songs, and art. Now, in its 12th season, JWT seeks stories celebrating a diverse Jewish population, regardless of gender, generation, degree of Jewish observance, ethnicity, cultural background, or sexual orientation, drawing on audiences of all ages, both women and men, mostly Jewish, but not all. Some notable shows are: “Saffron & Rosewater”—about the Persian Jewish immigrant; “Stories from The Fringe”—trailblazing stories of women rabbis; “Eden According to Eve”—bible stories from a female perspective set in contemporary times; “Chutzpah & Salsa—the Latino Jewish experience, and more. You can enjoy several brief clips of comedy writer Monica Piper’s commissioned one-woman show, “Not That Jewish” here: jewishwomenstheatre.org/notthatjewish.

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The Lilith Blog

January 15, 2020 by

Laughter As Medicine for Resistance

I had my first real MS flare following the 2016 election, 10 years after my diagnosis. Once I had recovered, I realized that I would need a way to cope with a changed landscape: the news, the politics, the tension.

And for me, they only way to manage the scary reality of a Trump presidency was through comedy. The importance of living in a country that could jeer at the President without being offed or poisoned—mixed with the sheer release of laughing—provided a certain catharsis needed to process a way forward. I also appreciated the importance of comedians tearing apart the Trump Administration’s lies, policies and hypocrisy and making a huge mockery of the people in power. 

I knew this particular President was watching—and it would irk him. 

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