The Jewish Dis-Organization

May 9, 2009

5 min read


A stand-up comedian struggles to find his way through the maze of the Jewish Dis-Organization.

There are two things about being a comedian and doing Jewish Events; first, getting hired for the event and second, everything else. The Jewish Organization becomes the Jewish Dis-Organization.

Getting hired usually involves getting through a maze of committees. Jews love committees. There's the ‘Old' committee and sometimes a ‘Transition' committee and finally, the ‘New' committee. Usually a tape goes to the old committee, someone watches it and becomes a fan and this happens when the old committee (which at one time was a new committee) is tired of being a committee.

The Brotherhood is forming a new committee and the Sisterhood is too. Someone is waiting to be honored. We're not sure who but we need to honor somebody. Who haven't we honored yet? In a turn, the Brotherhood wants to honor the Sisterhood, and not to be outdone the Sisterhood insists on honoring the Brotherhood. No doubt they will eventually get around to honoring everybody. It's an honor to be honored, because when you are honored it's an excuse for other Jews to eat.

It's an honor to be honored, because when you are honored it's an excuse for other Jews to eat

The old committee shrinks down to the ‘fan' holding a funny tape and not enough people there to watch it and give the thumbs up. They can vote on the comedian but still have to bring it to the new committee, ‘cause let's face it, it's another excuse for a danish. At this point, if you're lucky you might get "a definite maybe, we're not 100% sure, it's up to the committee."

What happens by this time is somebody has lost the tape. "I thought you had it. They thought I had it and you know something I've had it. I didn't lose the tape. Call him up and say we need a new tape." Hurry up and wait, the name of a bad musical or my life story. So they call and finally they get their act together to check out the new tape. They figured out who they are going to honor and now it's time to pick a comic. "We saw your tape. Can you do 30 minutes?" Sure. "Well we need 40." That's fine. " Of course if 40 is fine, 50 is better." Let me be the judge. "Can you keep it clean?" Well, sure wasn't my tape clean? "Yes." I'm a clean comedian. I respect clean. " Okay, we love you. Just keep it clean. There are going to be people there with ears." My act is so clean, once a week I take it to a mikva.

My act is so clean, once a week I take it to a mikva.

So, the gig is confirmed. They did three re-counts at a Hadassah in Boca. A contract is sent. Then there are a few phone calls about flight, hotel and where the welcoming committee is going to take you to eat every waking hour they can think of. There's a great Chinese place we go to. There's a deli. There's a sandwich place and if we can get a reservation, a fish place. That's all just on the way from the airport to the hotel. What kind of food do you want backstage? The show isn't till next March. They want to know what I want to consume for the next 11 months.

Sometimes they call and ask you to do a few favors. "One of our members, Eddie Zuckerberger, has agreed to give us some of his frequent flier miles for your ticket. We hope you don't mind. We need you to work around blackout dates. We got you something for Wednesday night, a redeye, but you'll be able to rest up for the show on Saturday. Then we got you a redeye back next Tisha B'av. I didn't know you could take El Al from Los Angeles to Cleveland with a stopover in Tel Aviv."

While you're eating they ask you a few favors. "Would you mind doing a meet and greet with our donors at 5:00?" Okay, but the show is at 8:00? "Okay, 5:15. You'll meet and greet the donors at 5:15." The hotel is a five minute walk from the temple? "Then after the show we have a photo-op with the sponsors till 9:15." Why can't we do the sponsors and the donors together at 9:00? "Oh no, we can't mix sponsors and donors. They don't mingle. The donors donate and the sponsors sponsor. The sponsors don't like the donors. The sponsors really underwrite the show the donors just pledge things to get their name in the playbill." Talk about "chai" maintenance.

I just did a show out in LA. They were installing a new rabbi. Only Jews can install a rabbi. They hire non-Jews to install everything else in their lives, but a rabbi, that, they install. They can install a rabbi, but ask them to install a water-filter, forget about it. Maybe a battery? A rabbi and a battery. C'est Levine. After the show, they hand me the old tape. They found it. Good thing, just in the nick of time. Even though I killed ‘em they were unanimously undecided.

Click on the video below to see a clip of Steve Mittlemen performing live.

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