Submission #365 by Orangetown Jewish Center Men's Club - Orangeburg, NY (1886)

Submission information
Submitted by namkoob42
Fri, 2013-05-03 15:04
I have read the General Guidelines, "Nuts and Bolts" and Program Advanced Planning (Excel Spreadsheet) Documents
Club Name
Orangetown Jewish Center Men's Club - Orangeburg, NY (1886)
Original Comedy Show
Club Representative
Person completing form
Club President at time of Convention
Club President Now
Club Administration

Page 1

We use an original comedy show of song parodies and skits to poke fun at ourselves at our synagogue. We involve the Rabbis, their spouses, the Board President, other board members, Men's Club members and some spouses. The parodies and skits are written by a Men's Club member.
Comedy Show Details

Most comedy shows feature professional comedians. The cost detracts from the bottom line of the fundraiser and generally does not have a comedian who is well known. As our own local shown became better known in the synagogue, more congregants stepped up to help make it a reality. Our first show had a cast of 11. The last one had almost 30. The first show raised about $1200, the last one, over $6000 in one night.

A few Caveats:
1. This is not a professional show but is rather a funny look at ourselves. Some of the humor may come from inside jokes known to synagogue members.
2. Select who you are raising money for in advance. Get their support and use it in the publicity. For example, we raised over $6000 for the Religious Schools and Scholarship Fund.

The comedy writer or writers need to focus on synagogue life and some of our foibles as Jews. Some topics from past shows included the ones listed below and more.

• Songs in Jewish History – Rock and Roll originated with Jews of ancient times. Tunes such as “Come on Down to My Boat Baby” became “Come on Down to My Ark Baby” about Noah. “Mr. Sandman” was used to explain Moses’ nickname after 40 years in the desert.

• Holidays – Hooray for Hol-Hamoyed (“Hooray for Hollywood”), Hannukia (“Mamma Mia”), Find the Afikomen (Locomotion), Do the Egalitarian (“Locomotion”).

• Spoofs – Superheroes (Rebbitzman), Geico Commercials, PSL’s – Personal Seat Licenses, Dancing with the Star, Sponsors for Jewish prayers and Unknown Jewish Heroes (“Bitter Herb”).

• Synagogue Life – Summer Kiddush (“Summer Lovin’ “), the Cantor (“Cheers”), the Board president (“that’s Amore”), the Junior Rabbi (a woman – “Look at Me, I’m Sandra D”), our synagogue being egalitarian - Do the Egalitarian (“Locomotion”).

Ideas and scripts for comedy need to be collected over a set period of time with scripts written and edited at least 4 months before the actual show. Every aspect of our lives as synagogue members and Jews may be included as long as it is not mean spirited. The topics may include (but are not limited to): synagogue events, holidays, a Jewish view of American history or culture, commercials, television shows, etc. There may be one talented writer or several writers but the scripts all have to be reviewed. All of the scripts will need to be run past the rabbi(s).

Recruiting the performers is a separate task. Writing parts for the rabbi and cantor can be tricky – you need to-get them on board beforehand. The congregants really enjoy seeing them step out of their regular role. Many rabbis are real “hams.” Getting their involvement is a critical part of getting support for the show. In some cases, the clergy may not choose to perform, so congregants will need to fill the parts.

The lay leadership of the synagogue is also important for many of the same reasons as the clergy. Recruiting other performers from Men’s Club and the rest of the synagogue is actually easier once they know the clergy and other leaders are involved. Many step forward. The writers will often wants to perform some of what they have written.

The show needs a director, preferably with some experience (however minor), a producer and other jobs such as props, music, sound, staging, etc. Nothing fancy, but it gets more people to step up and be involved. Also, there should be a committee to handle the refreshments (coffee, and cake) after the show.

The show usually need at least 8 weeks of rehearsal. We have found that by placing the same people in several different skits, we can bring them in as a separate group. This is more time efficient and respectful of people’s time. The last few rehearsals can be full ones.

Page 2

Self Assessment
The home grown flavor of the comedy show engages many leaders and congregants. People step out of their usual roles. A few cast members have taken more active roles in Men's Club. Others have come to more synagogue events. It creates a "buzz" in the synagogue for months, both before and after the show. It brings in many of the members who do not attend regularly and has raised thousands of dollars.
Humor brings people together as a community - when over 200 people attend an event, the community is engaged. Doing the show has given some men the incentive to become more active in the Men's Club (and the synagogue) through taking on new roles and being with people (such as the clergy) in different settings. One is now running for a position as a trustee, while another has taken charge of one of our committees. The innovation part is easy to explain - we created this ourselves and it reflects us as a community.
Other synagogues have seem the DVD and are asking us to create a revue from the shows that is generic (not specifically Orangetown Jewish Center) so we can do it as a fund raiser at the Jewish Community Center.
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