Monday, April 23, 2007

Jewish Female Humor Falls, er, Flat

A review:-

Jewish Women Joking, and Nodding to the Past

Intermittent pleasure mingles with persistent illustration of the excruciating arduousness of stand-up comedy in “The J.A.P. Show: Jewish American Princesses of Comedy,” which began an open-ended run at the Actors Temple Theater on Wednesday night.

Part showcase for its four stars, part salute to the female comics who achieved renown in the post-World War II years, this 95-minute intermissionless show is a mixed blessing.

Alternating routines by Cathy Ladman, Jessica Kirson, Jackie Hoffman and Cory Kahaney with delightful filmed clips from performances by its designated “Queens of Comedy,” including Betty Walker, Jean Carroll, Totie Fields and Belle Barth, the show bats about .400.

For baseball players that’s a super average. For comics it means there is plenty of room for improvement. For audiences it means laughs along with longueurs.

Combing intelligence and spleen, Ms. Hoffman, as usual, delivers an admirable performance. Recycling some material from her justifiably popular and bilious winter performances at Joe’s Pub, she also has the true jester’s audacity to spin timely humor out of the Don Imus uproar, sing nastily about Upper West Side women and speculate on the joys of quaffing the contents of the drain of a George Foreman grill.

Ms. Ladman and Ms. Kahaney have their moments. Ms. Ladman mines a History Channel remark about the relationship between Hitler and Eva Braun for a bright analysis of her marriage, but some of her other material fails to rise beyond the obvious. Ms. Kahaney is at her best in eviscerating her relationship with her father through her “sister,” adopted by him through a television appeal, and in her imitation of a Madison Avenue salesgirl from Israel. But her reflections on teenage children and the dating habits of Jews and gentiles lack novelty.

Ms. Kirson’s repeated comments on the audience’s failure to respond to her routine made clear the need for revision of the material.

Sometimes the fault is in the stars.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that you choose to post someone else's review of this show, change the title of the review to something dismissive and inaccurate (because clearly you haven't seen it or read enough about it...this show falls anything BUT flat), in addition to using a review from what is typically the LEAST pro-Jewish/pro-Israel newspaper in the greater New York area.

YMedad said...

Well, I read the NYT so that's the review but since you made a valid point, I checked some others.

Here's from Variety:

Kahaney's material is dirtier and delivered with more verve. A particular winner is her complaint that dating a Gentile means never knowing how much dinner costs. And that, she says, means never knowing how much to put out after a meal.

Jackie Hoffman, whose hefty legit and film credits make her the show's biggest name, provides even raunchier bits. With her elastic face, occasional songs and relentlessly perky disposition, she draws laughs because her chipper personality is such a contrast to her filthy mouth. Some audience members were heard grousing that she recycled much of her material for this show, but for the uninitiated, she may be a highlight.

Without question, however, Jessica Kirson is the most innovative of the women reviewed (two alternate comics, Sherry Davey and Julie Goldman, will appear at select perfs). Her persona is best described as manically self-loathing. She fires off non sequitur jokes at a frantic pace, frequently stopping to tell us she'll lock the doors until we love her.

Here's from MyTheater:

With jokes both old and new about sex, husbands, family and weight issues, these lewd and lascivious ladies prove that the stuff cracking-up Bubby and Zayde in the schtetl is still pretty darn funny. The live performance, which is peppered with vintage footage of the original queens of comedy, enables these proud princesses to share the stage with their royal forbears (sp?).

If you want more positive reviews, and you think the above is really funny or border-line national masochism, the show's site (here) has loads although not everything there is click-workable.

Anybody else, either connected with the show or who has seen it is more than welcome to leave a comment here.