Chomedy of the Chosen

The Sabes Jewish Community Center puts on the second Jewish Humor Festival.

Stand-up comic Keith Barany demonstrates an ‘advancing hairline’ on Saturday during the Jewish Humor Festival at the Sabes Jewish Community Center.  Barany has written for major television productions such as the Emmy Awards, The Jimmy Kimmel Show and Seinfeld.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Stand-up comic Keith Barany demonstrates an ‘advancing hairline’ on Saturday during the Jewish Humor Festival at the Sabes Jewish Community Center. Barany has written for major television productions such as the Emmy Awards, The Jimmy Kimmel Show and Seinfeld.

Grace Gouker

What: Jewish Humor Festival

Where: Sabes Jewish Community Center

When:Now through Jan. 30

Cost:$5-8 for students

 

The Jewish community has a knack for producing comic geniuses. Drunken bat mitzvahs, eight crazy nights and Jerry Stiller are as much a part of the American cultural landscape as speedballs and apple pie.

Claire Avitabile, lead organizer of the Jewish Humor Festival hosted by the Sabes Jewish Community Center, is a fervent supporter of the tradition. The JHF, now in its sophomore year, brings together local, national and international acts to celebrate Jewish comedic heritage.

âÄúBut you donâÄôt have to be Jewish to enjoy the festival. IâÄôm not Jewish, and I run the thing,âÄù Avitabile said. âÄúWe just want to highlight this facet of the Jewish community.âÄù

Avitabile also runs the Jewish Film Festival and helps with the Fringe Festival. âÄúAn Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein,âÄù which Avitabile saw at the Fringe, is coming back for the JHF.

âÄúAfter selling out for all six of its performances during Fringe, we wanted to put it on the bill in case people werenâÄôt able to see it,âÄù Avitabile said.

âÄúNice Jewish Girls Gone Bad,âÄù a company out of New York City, is another highly anticipated performance. Together for eight years and running, the show features burlesque dancers, spoken-word artists, vocalists and stand-up comedians. There are jabs at everything, from a parody of Lady Gaga called âÄúMahjongg Face,âÄù to nitpicking some favorite local figures.

âÄúIâÄôve got my Garrison Keillor jokes,âÄù Susannah Perlman said. âÄúIâÄôve been to Minneapolis and have offended the audience a bit. But IâÄôm very excited regardless âÄî I love Minneapolis.âÄù Perlman leads the comedy troupe, as producer, comedienne and chanteuse.

Minnie Tonka, a member of NJGGB, will be part of the show. As her name suggests, the comedienne hails from Minnetonka with a gut-splitting âÄî albeit dark âÄî act.

âÄúShe was formerly part of the professional Jewish world,âÄù Perlman said. âÄúSheâÄôs got a lot to get off her chest.âÄù

The Sabes center and its staff were a little concerned about the adult content in a place with a daycare, PG-13 workshops and sometimes-orthodox get-togethers. The demand for the show ultimately cemented their decision.

âÄúIt was a bit of a risk for us; weâÄôre a family center. But weâÄôve put all the warnings out there that we need, and itâÄôs still one of the most popular events,âÄù said Avitabile.

The weather would usually put a damper on any sort of festival, but Avitabile insists thatâÄôs precisely why people should attend.

âÄúI feel like the only way to get people out of the house this time of year is to assure a guaranteed laugh,âÄù Avitabile said.

Clear the cobwebs from the old tuchas âÄî the fest promises to be the best thing since sliced latkes.