Jewish Comedian Shaun Eli is the Perfect Clean Stand-up Comic to Book or Hire for Your Temple, Synagogue, JCC, Hadassah, YMHA, Jewish Federation, your chapter of the UJA or B’Nai Brith, or other Jewish Organization
Orthodox, Chabad, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist- I’ve made you all laugh with my clean, professional stand-up comedy!
Shaun Eli is The Comedy Maven.
“I’ve been a working stand-up comedian since 2003. Before that I was a freelance comedy writer contributing to the opening monologues of three late-night TV talk show hosts. I’m also a former vice president of Bank Hapoalim. And now I get paid to make fun of them! What could be better than that?
I’ve headlined comedy shows on five continents. I’ve been profiled in The New York Times (mentioned on the front page!), The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Asbury Park Press and in a cover story in the Christian Science Monitor.
The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs called me their favorite comedian.
And by the way I’m not greedy. My shows for non-profit organizations are very affordable. I also do Virtual Comedy Shows which are even less expensive. And I’m very good at them.”
Here’s an article I wrote on Jewish comedy for Reform Judaism magazine on Jews in comedy:
The article explains that we’re 2% of the U.S. population. We’re only 0.2% of the world population. And yet approximately 20% of Nobel prize-winners have at least one Jewish parent. Perhaps it’s our culture’s emphasis on education, especially science and medicine. But we’re even more over-represented in comedy. A third of comedians on Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Standups of all time are Jewish. No, I’m not on the list, but it was compiled a long time ago. And anyway I think that most professional comedians would disagree with many of their choices.
Why are Jews so funny?
If comedy is tragedy plus time, well, we’ve got all the other groups beat, with over five thousand years of oppression. I recently read a book on the history of the Jews written by the president of Brandeis. He explained that in Europe, Jews would be kicked out of a country and settle somewhere else. We weren’t allowed to own land. So farming, the most common occupation, wasn’t available to us. Some places wouldn’t allow us to be tradespeople either. We’d succeed as merchants and then the locals would become upset at our success. The people, or their government, would confiscate everything and chase us away. We’d go somewhere else and repeat the process.
This went on for a thousand years.
It’s no wonder we learned to make each other laugh. What other choice did we have?
With a five thousand year history of storytelling, no group has a longer, stronger history of making people laugh than we do. Five thousand years of telling the same old stories. Stories that, for the most part, are about barely escaping oppression (isn’t that the theme of just about every Jewish holiday?). There are only so many times you can tell the same story before you start adding punchlines. After all, it’s hard to be sad when you’re laughing. Although…
One day I was walking along East Fortieth Street in New York City. All of a sudden I was flat on my back, like someone had pushed me over. But nobody else was nearby. What happened?
I looked around and saw a banana peel. Yeah, a pro comic had really slipped on a banana peel, the basic staple of slapstick movies from fifty or sixty years ago (and yeah, bananas are actually really slippery when you step on them).
I found the whole thing ridiculous. That’s also when I discovered that it’s actually possible to be both laughing and crying at the same time. Because it hurt, but it was also funny.
Even the Talmud prizes those who make people laugh:
Rav Beroka of Bei Hozae was often in the market of Bei Lapat. There he would meet Elijah. Once he said to Elijah: “Is there anyone in this market who has earned eternal life?”
Elijah said to him: “No.”
They were standing there when two men came along. Elijah said to him: “These men have earned eternal life.”
Rav Beroka went to them and said: “What do you do?”
They replied: “We are jesters, and make the sad to laugh.”
Of course, perhaps we’re just a people prone to exaggeration. I mean, 10 plagues, okay. But 250 plagues? Who wrote this Haggadah?
I would suggest, though, that our skill in comedy comes simply from storytelling. In my own family we’d gather at holidays and talk about whatever had happened since the last time we got together. And the funniest storytellers got the most attention. My brother the doctor may have saved a baby’s life, but if we didn’t know the baby, who cares? My Jewish mother joke made people laugh:
You hear people talk about stereotypical Jewish mothers. You never hear anybody talk about a stereotypical Jewish father. So I decided to investigate. I went and asked my dad, “What is the stereotypical Jewish father?” He said “I’m busy, go ask your mother.”
“Jesus performs miracles. Jesus healeth the sick,” I’ve been told. My response? “Jewish doctor – not so uncommon.”
I’ve also been told Jesus turned water into wine. “I’m not so impressed. I’ve had Israeli wine.”
Making your parents laugh? What could be a greater mitzvah? Especially when you disappointed them by not going to medical school.
I tell people that I had a great childhood. My parents didn’t put a lot of pressure on me growing up. They said I could go to any medical school I wanted.
Okay, it had to be in the United States and preferably an Ivy League school, but still, which one was my choice. My brother went to Columbia Med. My other brother has a PhD from Yale. But I’ve headlined shows on five continents. Neither of them has headlined any shows or even been to five continents.
To hire me, or for more information email Shaun at BrainChampagne dot com or call or text (914) it’s-funny (914) 487-3866
When people ask me if I do Jewish humor I’m never quite sure what they are asking. If they mean is my comedy old-fashioned, hacky, Borscht Belt humor then the answer is no. Absolutely not. It’s not 1950 anymore. Even some of my clothing is newer than that.
But if their question is, do I have material about being Jewish, the answer is yes. I have a sufficient amount of Jewish comedy material. But what you don’t want in the show for your Jewish organization is someone talking for an hour about being Jewish. As a pro stand-up comedian I can tell you that that’s just too much time spent on one topic.
If you want an example of what my Jewish comedy is like, here’s some:
Here’s something else that I offer, and it’s included in the price of the show: Q&A with the audience at the end. It’s proven to be very popular with audiences- they’re often curious about stand-up comedy and comedians but they’re not necessarily comfortable approaching me after a show. When I make it part of the show they love the opportunity to ask me questions. It’s like a backstage pass to a comedy show. And I like it too- it gives me the opportunity to be spontaneously funny, to share stories that are fun and funny but not right for a stand-up comedy show. And occasionally something happens that does become part of my act. There’s also a little bit of a marketing aspect to it for me, because I’m often asked where else I perform. I get to say I can do shows for your country club, your office, your industry conference, your alumni association, even a private party.
Hiring a Jewish Comedian for your Synagogue Event
Much of my comedy is story-telling. No guitars, no magic, no props, just the power to make people laugh with just my words. Stories usually run from five to nine minutes and have a ton of laughs all along the way. I have stories about working for Bank Hapoalim, for example. People tell me I should work where they work, there’s plenty of comedy there. But really, your story about Lenny getting his tie stuck in the fax machine may have made people in the office laugh, but that’s because they know Lenny. Stand-up comedy’s different. (do they still have fax machines? Do people still wear neckties? I have no idea- I haven’t worked in an office since 2009)
I also have stories about fighting a parking ticket in criminal court- if you ever drive to Philadelphia you NEED to hear my story- and stories about jury duty (including how to get out of it, although I strongly believe it’s immoral to try to evade your civic duty), about battling with my cell phone company with the aid of NBC TV News, about friends and family and dating and travelling all over the world performing stand-up comedy, about dating a vegetarian, about growing up in NYC… just about anything can be funny if you look at it right. Or maybe if you look at it wrong.
Either way I haven’t had too much trouble finding things in my life to turn into stand-up comedy.
What I do is different from just telling jokes to friends. When you tell jokes to friends you’ve got a common frame of reference. And they’ll be patient- they’ll sit through a three minute story with nothing to laugh at until the end. Because they’re your friends.
I want to be your friend but audiences at comedy shows are not that patient. Our routines have to have several laughs a minute. That’s the main difference between stand-up comedy and telling jokes to your friends. Very different skills. I’m not saying one is more important than the other; they’re just different. Golf and baseball both involve hitting a ball with a stick but they’re very different sports.
Here’s some information, actually a lot of information, on How To Tell A Joke.
By the way, I was once at a networking event at the Princeton Club. They were asking everyone to give thirty seconds on what they do for a living. I said I didn’t need thirty seconds as my job speaks for itself, I’m a stand-up comedian. For some reason that got a huge laugh. But the guy in charge of the event wanted more detail. What’s the purpose of my job, its function in society? I said “It’s my job to make you forget how much you hate your job.”sm They liked that so much I put it on my business card as a slogan. And by the way that’s a trademarked phrase (that’s what the sm is, it means servicemark). So don’t steal it. Because not all Jews are doctors. Some of us are lawyers.
Okay, that’s enough. Time to hire me, or for more information email Shaun at BrainChampagne dot com or call or text (914) it’s-funny (914) 487-3866
Still not convinced? Go to the top of the page, click on the links, watch more videos, read thousands of jokes I’ve written for late-night TV. You can even read about how to hire a comedian.
Shaun can also emcee/host your synagogue singles event
Email Shaun at BrainChampagne dot com or call or text (914) it’s-funny (914) 487-3866