Circumcise Me!

I just went to see “Circumsize Me” last night at the Bleecker Street Theater, and it had me thinking about the ridiculous number of hilarious Jews there are in comedy – it’s practically run by Jews! Yet when someone invites you to a one-man show by a religious Jew, your first instinct is, probably, “no thanks.” But if you think about it, Jews have been at the forefront of comedy since the beginning, and a religious Jew is a “Super Jew,” which makes their experiences even better material for comedy. In the case of “Circumsize Me,” the material is being pulled from a religious Jews experience as a non-Jew, and the show was definitely great. Yisrael Campbell steps on the stage and asks if everyone is hot or if it’s just him because he is dressed like Poland in the 1800’s. He brings in Jewish members of the audience with Jewish self-deprecating humor, but then explains his original non-Jewish background and his journey to becoming an observant Jew. The show was hilarious, joyful, sad and powerful throughout – it’s an amazing combination of emotions and insight. To say, “I laughed, I cried” would be both an understatement and a cliche – the man really pulls you into his life, and you get so into listening to his experiences and comedic mishaps, you wish your friends were there with you. By the end, you want to invite him over for a Shabbat dinner. It’s rare that a person can turn a spiritual journey into a joke, while still relating the journey’s depth and power, but Yisrael Campbell somehow finds the balance. Campbell may even inspire people to sincerely look at the show’s title as a spiritual request on their terms, wherever they may be in life.


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