by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-03-07
What I Like About Jew
What is it about Jews and using the word Jew wherever and whenever possible. In the online world, sites and blogs such as Jewschool, Jewlicious, Jewcy and Daily Jews have reclaimed Jew for something to be proud of and want to be associated with.
And now in the off-line world of comedy and music, two New Yorkers are putting the Jew back into the spotlight under the performing name of What I Like About Jew.
Of course, what I like about Jew will differ between each Jew. I like pickles and lox, some Jew folks hate it, despite it being part of our cultural identity, others will love Matzo balls and chicken liver. But each to their own and that's one of the great things about being a Jew, we are a pretty good group of folks with a diverse range of interests.
So, What I Like About Jew have just released their debut CD (available through their website) - aptly named Unorthodox and it quite possibly one of the best pro-Jewish albums to come out in recent years.
These two live Jews, Rob Tannenbaum and Sean Altman are 30-something's, who have been there, dated non-Jews, enjoy some parts of Jewish life, hate other aspects of it and are looking to offer their perspective of being a Jew in the 21st century through songs such as They Tried To Kill Us (We Survived, Let's Eat), Reuben The Hook-Nosed Reindeer and Hot Jewish Chicks
The songs are well meaning, some are funny and others thought provoking. One of the highlights is Jews for Jesus, a punk rock-ish track that rebuffs the Christian Messianic group who target Jews through deceptive means.
While Jews Jews Jews goes through the various stereotypes such as Jews controlling banks and drinking blood.
Through 18 tracks including an intro by Jewish porn king Al Goldstein to the song The Porno Made Me Do It, Rob and Sean take the listener on a unique Jewish musical journey.
We recently caught up with Rob via email and had to ask him some pressing questions, well just three really.
1. Why are you doing this? Aren't there enough Jews doing comedy already?
Sure, there are enough Jews doing comedy. There are also enough Jews practicing family law and performing dental surgery, but that shouldn't stop the Rosenbaums and Goldensteins from applying to Yale Law or Harvard Medical. At this point, breaking down barriers is an attractive ideal but a little too difficult: I should be the first great Jewish hockey player? And I think we all know what tsuris will await the first Jewish president. Writing songs and singing them for adoring throngs of young Jewish women seemed, frankly, much easier and less bloody. Plus, we are innovative: Who else writes songs about circumcision, or rhymes "Sukkos" with "tuches"?
2. Do you think Jewish humor cross the Jewish cultural divide, eg: will UK Jews get what you are doing, do Canadian Jews differ, etc.
We performed in Canada last year, at the Just For Laughs (Juste Pour Haha, to your Francophone readers) festival in Montreal and found out that the jokes are pretty much universal -- the Canucks laughed in all the same spots as people in New York or Washington, D.C., though that may be because we travel with a flashing neon sign that says LAUGH RIGHT NOW. I guess we could test the whole Is-humor-universal? question by playing for some Palestinian Jews, but our booking agent keeps advising against it.
3. Is there much money to be made out of doing Jewish comedy?
Mel Brooks and I were just discussing that last week over topless pedicures in the steam room of the St. Tropez Four Seasons. The pedicurists were topless -- Mel and I were both fully clothed. Yes, there's money to be made in Jewish comedy, and our agent says one day he'll start sharing it with us. But who cares? As long as we cover our modest expenses, Sean and I are happy. Really, we just do this for the kids.
For more information: www.whatilikeaboutjew.com