Imam Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers and Reverend Steven Young tell Judi Herman about their hopes and fears for their very first comedy gig. An Imam, a Rabbi and a Priest Walk into a Comedy Club is taking place as part of JW3’s third annual UK Jewish Comedy Festival. And for an extra treat, hear Imam Muhammad demonstrate his prize-winning singing in Gaelic at the end of his chat with Judi!
Australian-Israeli comedian, actor and human rights lawyer Jeremie Bracka will be making his London debut on night one of JW3’s UK Jewish Comedy Festival (1-4 Dec). Here he talks to Judi Herman, JR’s arts editor, about life in the Middle East and Down Under, as well as his latest one-man show, Thank you for Flying Hell-Al, in which he uses storytelling, stand-up, character comedy and mockumentary to explore life in Israel and the experience of making Aliyah.
Thank you for Flying Hell-Al is on Thursday 1 December, 8.30pm, £15, at JW3, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8989. www.jw3.org.uk
Often at shiva prayers it strikes me how much the late-lamented might have enjoyed the gathering of nearest and dearest, but would they have enjoyed the eulogies? Might they not have confessed (or complained) “that’s not the real me, warts and all”? David Baddiel goes further in his scurrilous tribute to his late mother, who died suddenly in 2014. He confides in his audience that Sarah Baddiel loved not only being centre stage, but also a bearded, pipe-smoking golf salesman for 20 years – apparently unnoticed by her husband, even wangling him an invitation to David’s bar mitzvah. Seriously, he’s there in the photo album.
If you think that this might make for uncomfortable laughter, don't worry. Sarah herself gives posthumous sanction, caught on camera delighted at being the centre of attention as a volunteer audience member in a TV comedy panel game starring Baddiel and Frank Skinner. To her son’s visible discomfiture she pulls focus by writing something on the board that offers far too much information about her sex life – his mortification is complete when he feels he must correct her spelling of an unmentionable word to boot.
What follows is an exasperated and affectionate no-holds-barred exposé, not just of the nuts and bolts of her grand passion, but also of her foibles. Her lover sold golfing memorabilia, so, presumably working on the theory that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, she set up a rival business.
She would send inappropriate emails to her lover, copying in her sons, perhaps so they could share her facility with misplaced inverted commas. I found myself weeping - with laughter. Sarah would surely have loved sharing the joke too.
Baddiel is wonderfully at home alone onstage, on a set (production design by Declan Randall) decked out like a Jewish rococo living room, surrounded by family photos in frames of every shape and on every surface including the back walls, underfoot a black-and-tan Persian-style carpet.
Baddiel’s father Colin survives Sarah, but perhaps his son is in mourning for him too, for he has dementia – a particularly difficult form called Pick’s disease, which makes him extraordinarily foul-mouthed, aggressive and – you’ve guessed it – prone to sexually inappropriate behaviour. Baddiel gets laughs when he responds to the neurologist’s explanation of the symptoms: "Sorry, does he have a disease or have you just met him?" He gets guffaws when he shares the Daily Mail’s shock-horror headline: "David Baddiel’s agony amid fears he is contracting dementia". And he gets my sympathy and admiration for finding and sharing the funny in losing his parents.
By Judi Herman
My Family: Not the Sitcom runs from Tuesday 28 March - Saturday 3 June. 8pm, 3pm (Wed & Sat only), from £23.50, at Playhouse Theatre, WC2N 5DE. www.playhousetheatrelondon.com
Suitable for ages 16+ as the show contains mature language and subject matter
The hotly anticipated rebirth of the legendary comedy shtick is nigh! Mel Brook’s comedy tour de force as the oldest man in the world (Jewish, Yiddish accent), in improvised interviews with ‘TV reporter’ Carl Reiner, subsequently made into a collection of best-seller albums is about to take to the stage. This month, Canadian-born actor, writer and voice-over artist Kerry Shale, together with the British comedian, producer and writer Chris Neill are bringing The 2000 Year Old Man to JW3 in a verbatim performance where the actors wear earbuds and copy the edited recordings word-for-word, intonation-for-intonation.
Judi Herman has been following the continuing story and was ‘thrilled and delighted’* to get a sneak preview for Jewish Renaissance and to talk to the brand new double act of Shale and Neill. Hear the podcast above or download it for later listening.
*see the show to find out where this quote fits in!
The 2000 Year Old Man runs from Monday 9 - Sunday 22 March. 8pm. £6.50-£12.50. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk
Joel Sanders is angry. This could be down to the fact his parents went against their Jewish-ness and sent him to a Christian school. Perhaps it’s due to his high blood pressure, which he makes a point of taking on stage. Or maybe it’s because living the life of Riley on London’s canalways isn’t as relaxing as the comedian thought it would be.
Born and raised Jew-ish – the laidback kind that eat “circumcised pigs” – in Ruislip, Sanders has remained loyal to our busy capital. Apart from the few years he spent in America, which he’ll be sure to vent to you about in the show. The 40-something comic once taught English at northwest London’s Haydon School, before devoting all his time to the Comedy Bunker club, also in Ruislip. Then one day the stress of city life became too much and, against his father’s advice – “Jews don’t live on boats” – Sanders bought a boat.
Split into two 40-minute halves, The Angry Boater is loaded with absurd anecdotes. Have you ever been shouted at for putting rubbish in a bin? Sanders has. How about being ignored by a coal-toting Frenchman? Because Sanders has checked that one off too. In fact some of his stories are so laughable that they seem unreal, until you notice fellow boaters in the audience grinning and nodding in agreement.
Like many pro funnymen, Sanders is affable and unassuming, dressed simply in a plain black t-shirt and jeans. He looks a bit like a dad and has a habit of waffling on like one too, but the wait for his punchlines is always worth it. And they’re not all nautical either. Sanders weaves in enough general gripes to keep us land-dwellers happy. After all, you need only be human to understand just how frustrating a trip to Homebase can get. And while these stressful encounters may be pushing Sanders’ blood pressure to new heights, his accounts of them are raising laughs.
By Danielle Goldstein
The Angry Boater runs every Tuesday until 17 March. 7.30pm. £10, £7 adv. The Bargehouse, 46a De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5RY. www.angryboater.com