On Wednesday, January 19th, a comedy, music & burlesque act from New York City called “Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad” will be taking the stage at Gabe’s at 8 p.m. and, given how few Jews there are in show business (insert rim-shot here) I’m always more than happy to plug an act involving fellow members of the tribe.
I spoke with Susannah Perlman, the self-proclaimed ringleader of the group last week about the show.
She told me that the group is a conglomerate of different female comediennes, spoken-word artists, burlesque performers and musicians which has been together for 8 years now and rotates performers in and out based on their availability as well as what their needs are for a given show or tour.
They’ve played everything from colleges and Hillel organizations to bowing alleys and dive bars bringing their act, described on their website as “a night of comedy, music and burlesque, told by the gals who learned to smoke at Hebrew School, got drunk at their Bat-Mitzvahs and would rather have more schtuppa than the chupah,” to cities and towns, large and small all across the United States.
Every place they’ve played they’ve garnered rave reviews.
I asked her how the act plays in places where there might not be a very big Jewish community and she said that the humor was universal enough that it had appeal to anyone in the audience. Also, she said, the show does tend to draw Jews out of the woodwork from surrounding areas when word of an upcoming show gets spread around either because they’re interested in getting a dose of Jewish humor or they’re simply just curious what the act is all about.
Though there’s a long and storied history of Jewish comedians and entertainers, Susannah said that the act is not overtly “Catskilly” (and if that’s not yet a real word it should be) as the women who make up the act are younger and grew up influenced by folks like Jon Stewart and Chris Rock far more than Jackie Mason and other “old guard” Jewish comedians who made names for themselves touring Jewish resorts in the Catskill mountains in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
She said that the act does try to “push the envelope” (they refer to themselves as “broads” on their website) and this has, on occasion caused some older and more stodgy folks to shy away from it (one organization ever refused to book it as they thought the title of the show itself was too provocative, in a “Girls Gone Wild” sort of way) but that doing so is important for the performers involved as they’re giving a nod to the past but, primarily, trying to break stereotypes about what it means to be a “Nice Jewish Girl” by going their own way and doing their own thing creatively and artistically.
At the same time, the choice of the act’s name, with “Jewish” right there in the title, was no accident either and is an attempt to reclaim, celebrate and take ownership of their very Jewishness, something a lot of prominent Jewish comedians and entertainers have shied away from over the years fearing that being pegged as “too Jewish” would hamstring their chance for acceptance and success in the entertainment mainstream.
Susannah said that she promises it’ll be a fun show with comedy, music, and burlesque in a “gay in the way the word ‘gay’ was used at Jewish summer camps” sort of way.
I never attended a Jewish summer camp, so I don’t know what that means exactly, but I am a fan of comedy, burlesque, and wise-cracking, envelope-pushing Jewish broads who promise to “boldly dare to deconstruct years of tradition, expectations and guilt in a fast-paced vaudeville extravaganza, complete with kick lines, punch lines and a rendition of “L’chaim” with a fist in the mouth,” so I’ll definitely be attending the show on Wednesday to see what she meant.
The lineup for Wednesday’s show at Gabe’s includes Dana Eagle (Comedy Central/Craig Fergusen), Cynthia Levin (Comedy Central) and burlesque provided by Miss Minnie Tonka, all hosted by queen of the quick change, The Goddess Perlman (Last Comic Standing).
The show is at 8 p.m., all ages admitted and tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets available here.
For more about their act, visit their website, www.nicejewishgirlsgonebad.com