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Alte Kaker Comedy: Jewish Humor Festival at Sabes JCC Starts Saturday

The two-week festival highlights the Jewish comedic experience.

If you like jokes about alte kakers, Hasidim, the Diaspora and the Wise Men of Chelm, then you'll want to station yourself at St. Louis Park's Sabes Jewish Community Center over the next couple weeks for the fifth annual Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival.

Running from Jan. 18 to Feb. 1, the festival features stand-up comedy, workshops and films costing between $8 and $18 per event. 

Performers include Wendy Hammers, Cathy Ladman, Jonathan Geffner, Rabbi Sim Glaser, Laura Thorne and Jessica Kirson.

Here's the official schedule:

Saturday, January 18 at 730pm
OPENING NIGHT: COMEDIAN WENDY HAMMERS
with Special Guest, Laura Thorne

Wendy Hammers is a hyphenate: an actress/writer/storyteller/writing teacher/stand up comic/creativity coach/producer/wife/mother/foodie/hip hop dancer/jersey girl/hopeless romantic/lover of life. Not in that order. An actress, she is the recipient of two Drama-Logue Acting Awards, one for her solo play undressing new jersey (and other states of mind), and the other for her work in Chris Durang's Laughing Wild. Currently, her latest solo show, RIPE, which played to SRO audiences in Hollywood in 2012, is ramping up for a 2014 - 2015 tour. She is a published author You've Got Meal (Marabout Press), and has contributed essays to the anthologies What was I Thinking? (St. Martins Press), and That Time of the Month (Melanie Vara), as well as a contributor to The Huffington Post.

Local favorite, Laura Thorne, returns to the Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival for the 4th time. She began working as a comic in 2007 at the suggestion of her former boss, who upon firing her, recommended she pursue standup comedy as it seemed a better fit than the corporate world. Devastated, broke, and deeply humbled, Laura began performing standup comedy in Washington, DC and throughout the East Coast. Now in Minneapolis, she regularly performs standup and improvisational comedy for corporate events, charities, and comedy clubs.

Recommended for 18+ (language/content)
Tickets: $18 General; $15 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors
Ticket includes opening night party following the event in the JCC Lobby. 

Sunday, January 19 from 12-3pm
IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOP

Grades 3-5
Presentation at 2:30pm

Who needs a script when you can make it up as you go along? Open to both the experienced and novice improviser, this fun-and-full-of-laughs workshop will teach a variety of improv games and styles, imagination exercises, physical comedy, and help students learn to think on their feet. Led by Hannah Wydeven, Youth Director at HUGE Theater and instructor at Brave New Workshop. Hannah teaches kids 4-18 at a variety of theaters and schools in the city, and is the founder and director of the Twin Cities Youth Improv Festival. Space limited to 12 students! Brief presentation at 2:30pm for friends and family.

WORKSHOP FEE: $18 G; $15 Members

Sunday, January 19 at 730pm
COMEDIAN JESSICA KIRSON
with Special Guest, Plucky Rosenthal

Jessica Kirson has been featured on various television shows, including, Comedy Central's Premium Blend and Fresh Faces, Bravo's The Great Things About Being, Seasons 2 and 3 of NBC's Last Comic Standing, and NBC's Last Call With Carson Daly and  The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jessica has also performed in numerous comedy festivals and clubs throughout the US.

Chicago-based vintage variety act Plucky Rosenthal has been on the scene for five years, producing two one-woman shows and headlining variety nights in the Chicagoland area. A semi-finalist for the Andy Kaufman Award, and with training spanning improv, music, clown, and mime, she has a keen eye for classic comedy with a modern take, combining old school joke telling, clever original music, and energetic physical comedy.

Recommended for 18+ (language/content)
Tickets: $12 General; $10 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors

Thursday, January 23 at 730pm
Hassidic Comedian, MENDY PELLIN

Los Angeles-based Hassidic comedian and actor, Mendy Pellin, has transformed the face of Jewish entertainment. Born in an ultra-orthodox Jewish home in Brooklyn, NY, his natural gift for acting became apparent when, at age 7, he was drafted into the local Jewish puppet theater. At age 16, his original traveling act How the Grichberg Stole Chanukah garnered national acclaim as it was viewed by audiences across the country. By age 21 he had become an ordained Rabbi. He often partners with other celebrities, recently with Larry King and Martin Sheen, to benefit a wide array of philanthropic causes about which he is passionate. On-screen, Mendy has performed with Brad Pitt, Diane Keaton and others. His satirical Stephen-Cobert-style news show, The Mendy Report, has recently become an online sensation.

Recommended for 18+ (language/content)
Tickets: $12 General; $10 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors

Saturday, January 25 at 730pm
COMEDIAN CATHY LADMAN
With Special Guest, Raleigh Weld

As one of the country's top comedians, Cathy Ladman's show is a self-probing, anxiety-venting vehicle, which draws laughter from exposing personal neurosis. She has not only appeared on The Tonight Show nine times, but was also the only female comic to appear on the last two Johnny Carson Tonight Show Anniversary shows. 

Film credits include roles in White Oleander, My Fellow Americans, and Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, and she has guest starred on Fox’s Titus and CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond. Cathy has appeared many times on ABC's Politically Incorrect and, when it was in production, Comedy Central's Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist. She was a writer for the hit sit-come Roseanne and received the American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand Up Comic. Her comedy focuses on family, growing up, relationships, and real life from a very personal perspective.

A regular at many clubs throughout the Twin Cities, including MinneHaHa Comedy Club and the Joke Joint, Raleigh Weld is thrilled to return to the JCC stage after a brief appearance in a Comedy Cabaret in 2011.

Recommended for 18+
Tickets: $12 General; $10 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors

Sunday, January 26, 11:00am-12:30pm
LAUGHTER YOGA WORKSHOP with Mary Margaret Anderson

According to Milton Berle, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Surprisingly, 60 minutes of laughter yoga can feel like a vacation—no reservations required. Let go of your inhibitions and discover what laughter can do for you and everyone else in your life. It is a key to unlocking our joy. It triggers chemical reactions in the brain, strengthens core muscles, and sometimes even core principles of living. As an old Yiddish proverb says, “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” No need to be flexible, wear special clothing, or know anything about downward dogs, upright rhinos or uptight colleagues.

Mary Margaret Anderson was the first certified Laughter Yoga teacher in Minnesota, and has 7 years of experience teaching engaging, applicable Laughter Yoga classes. She is known for being fun, happy, dependable, and making the experience meaningful and special for everyone!

Workshop Fee: $12 general; $10 JCC premium/community members and students
Fee includes post-workshop treats.

Sunday, January 26 at 2pm
MISH MASH! with Ventriloquist, JOHNATHAN GEFFNER
With Special Guest, Huge Theater

Children and adults from age 3 to 103 are invited to enjoy this uniquely mesmerizing performance by one of the world's most amazingly skilled ventriloquists. Jonathan and his madcap meshugeneh puppet partners have been featured on Late Night (NBC), Hour Magazine (FOX), The Joe Franklin Show (WOR), and Dialogue (ABC), and have delighted audiences young and old at museums, summer camps, JCCs, festivals, and theaters throughout the US. Mish Mash! is sure to delight the whole family.

HUGE Theater improv comedy stars will warm up the audience with hilarious and family-friendly shenanigans.

Recommended for all ages!
Tickets: $10 General; $8 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors; FREE for children 10 and under

Wednesday, January 29 at 730pm
WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY – Film

From the 1930's to the 1970's, almost every comedian or comic you might have seen on TV or the movies was Jewish. Jews dominated the world of western‐society comedy on radio, stage and screen alike… And then what happened? Why did that domination end? Were Jews just funnier back then? And if so, did that extend to your average Jew on the street? Acclaimed director, Alan Zweig, examines these questions and many others in this insightful and hilarious exploration of 20th century humor, the history of Jewish comedy, ethnicity in the entertainment industry, and also the question of what it means to be Jewish. Featuring interviews with Howie Mandel, Gilbert Gottfried, Cory Kahaney, Judy Gold, Modi and many, many others, as well as archive footage of Rodney Dangerfield, Jackie Mason, and Alan King.

Directed by Alan Zweig; 2013, US; 90 minutes; English
Ticket: $10 General; $8 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors 

Thursday, January 30 at 7pm  **at the St. Paul JCC**
MARK COHEN presents
Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman

Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman is the first published biography of the ground-breakng Jewish song parodist and humorist, written by Mark Cohen, the leading expert on Allan Sherman. In time for the 50th anniversary of “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” Cohen’s book, based on his own exclusive access to papers and recordings held by Sherman’s son and dozens of interviews, is the story of how Sherman's Jewish song parodies won him extraordinary fame and success and also changed American culture by leading Jewish comedy out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream. Allan Sherman played Carnegie hall, befriended Harpo Marx, discovered and produced Bill Cosby, and sang for the National Press Club, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Lyndon Johnson’s presidential campaign.

Event will be followed by a book sale and signing with Mark Cohen.
Tickets: $10 General; $8 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors
NOTE: This event takes place at the St. Paul JCC, 1375 Saint Paul Ave, Saint Paul

Saturday, February 1 at 730pm
THE OBSERVANT RABBI: An evening of observations* from the Twin Cities' Inappropriate Rabbi Sim Glaser

*guaranteed 68% Kosher

With Special Guest, The Chosen Few

Back AGAIN (we can’t get rid of him) for his 3rd year as a Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival headliner, Rabbi Sim Glaser is thrilled to share more of his wicked sense of humor with us all. Rabbi Glaser joined Minneapolis’ Temple Israel clergy team in 1999, and has been sharing his knowledge of Torah, Kabbalah, and Israeli culture, his passion for social justice, and his fantastic music and storytelling talents with us ever since.

Also returning to the TCJHF are The Chosen Few—our favorite Jew-ish improv-comedy troupe, featuring Josh Awend, Josh Kaplan, Chris Campo, and Max Liebowitz.

Recommended for ages 18 and up (language/content)

Ticket: $15 general; $12 JCC Members, Students, and Seniors

Ticket includes reception following the show in the JCC Lobby

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