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Juno’s Jewish Twin
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The screen shows a teenage girl in a parking lot, presumably outside an abortion clinic, and later at a local deli, where, holding a pregnancy-test kit, she tells the clerk she tested positive.

But rather than a teen named Juno, as portrayed in the eponymous movie released last fall, viewers are watching none other than Jewno, a Jewish girl facing a similar predicament. And rather than a clerk exclaiming, “That ain’t no Etch-a-Sketch; this is one doodle that can’t be undid,” the clerk in “Jewno” offers: “That ain’t no dreidel; this is one latke you can’t unfry.”

The two-minute spoof, made in the form of a movie trailer, is the latest brainchild of the folks behind the Shushan Channel, the annual Purim show that began six years ago in the basement of Congregation Shaare Zedek. The show has since been hosted by the 92nd Street Y — first at Makor, the Y’s former location on the Upper West Side, and last weekend at 92Y Tribeca, the Y’s soon-to-be-opened downtown site. (The site will open officially this fall, said a Y spokeswoman, who called the Saturday-night show “a sneak preview” of the space.)

Indeed, much of the audience attending last weekend’s show purchased their tickets after viewing “Jewno” on the Web, where it was posted to promote the event, said Rob Kutner, a founder of the Shushan Channel and a writer for the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The spoof has become a viral success on the Internet, drawing more than 150,000 visitors, said Kutner, who wrote “Jewno” with his wife, Sheryl Zohn, a fellow comedy writer. But the biggest coup for its creators was recruiting J.K. Simmons to play the teenager’s father, satirizing the role he played in “Juno.”

“Sheryl and I were wondering if we could get anyone from the original cast to be in it,” said Kutner, who also worked with a close friend, Stephen Levinson, director of the spoof. “It was sort of a pie-in-the-sky idea.” But “pie in the sky” became reality when Simmons took to the idea and received permission to appear in the spoof from Jason Reitman, the director of “Juno.” From what Kutner hears, Reitman is among those who have seen the spoof and consider it “hilarious.”

Last weekend’s show in Tribeca — cosponsored by Hazon, the Jewish environmental group — featured “Jewno,” as well as eight skits and another video. Lampooning popular culture while highlighting the story of Purim, the skits concerned such topics as “the megillah writers’ strike,” a debate among would-be rulers of Persia, moderated, of course, by Haman Coulter, and the latest developments in “Deadvood,” a Yiddishkeit version of HBO’s “Deadwood.”

“There’s a really specific tone about this,” said Kutner, touching on the brand of humor adopted by the Shushan Channel. “We’re kind of cynical, world-weary and jaded, but we’re not down on religion.”

Kutner and his associates, all in their 30s, have begun selling their Purim spiels to synagogues, Hillel chapters and other Jewish organizations through www.shushanchannel.com. Meanwhile, “Jewno,” which Kutner calls their most professional parody yet, can be viewed on Hazon’s Web site, www.hazon.org.

Last Update:

02/11/2010 - 11:55

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