Hebrew school teacher takes top honors in annual Jewish Week contest.
A room full of Jewish comedians inevitably led to one thing. Jokes about disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
“I actually met Weiner at my 8th grade graduation,” said one comedian, Saul Good. “He shook my hand ... I’ve been using Purell [hand sanitizer] ever since.”
Several of the seven comedians competing at the 12th annual Jewish Week Comedy Contest poked fun at Weiner, and covered familiar ground like dating, family and Jewish holidays.
The first-place winner, 28-year-old Aaron Friedman, mines his years as a Hebrew school teacher and b’nai mitzvah tutor for his act. He lamented the difficulties of being a Jew on Christmas. “We try to convince ourselves Chanukah is better,” he said. “They get one day, we get eight days. They get one day of presents, we get eight days of presents. They get one Xbox, one iPod, we get eight ... pairs of socks.”
But for Friedman, redemption comes on Passover, when Jews eat matzah, “the Costco version of the communion wafer,” he said. “When they see us eating matzah, they must be thinking, ‘your Jewish God must be huge!’”
Friedman, a Philadelphia native who now lives in New York, has been doing comedy for several years, performing at college Hillel houses and participating in sketch comedy troupes both here and in Israel, where he lived for a year while his wife attended rabbinical school. Last year Friedman, along with his friend Andrew Davies, started “The Bible Players,” an improv children’s show covering Jewish topics.
“Judaism and entertaining is my forte,” Friedman told the Jewish Week. “All the intricacies and neuroses that comes with being Jewish” are perfect fodder for comedy.
Second place in the competition went to Good, who in addition to telling jokes, performed parody songs, like “Hamataschen,” sang to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.”
In third place was Robyn Schall, a 26-year-old comedian from Long Island, who said she has been compared to Rikki Lake, Snooki from “Jersey Shore” and Danny Devito. She said that after losing a lot of weight, she became “a CEO. A closet eating offender.”
The comedians were judged on three criteria-presentation, orginality and audience response-by David Goldman, Joe Franklin, Gloria Nadel and Geoff Kole, who produced the event. The winner received $175, and second and third place $100 and $50 respectively.
In addition to the competitors, the 75 audience members heard from previous winners Michael Salloway, and Freddy Seltzer, who emceed the night. Dick Capri, co-star of “The Catskills on Broadway” opened the show, and Modi, a prolific Jewish comic, closed the night.
“I only date Jewish girls,” said Modi, “because it is written in the Torah that self torture is mandatory.” But dating Jews can be tough, he said. Non-Jewish girls think it is exciting to date a comic, but Jewish girls, “they say, ‘is that all you do?’ ”
As for Friedman, he says he would love to pursue stand-up, but “it would be nice to make a living. I would love to fulfill the Jewish stereotype and have some money.”
For more info on Friedman, visit www.aaronfriedmancomedy.com
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