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PREVIEW: Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival

A sampling of acts at the Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival.

If the weather has you down, you can escape for a week by diving into the Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival. The festival’s 2018 incarnation features stand-up comedians, a film delving the darkest sources of humor, a hit show about pickles and the State Fair, a conversation with a controversial comics artist, a family-friendly Mad-Libs adventure, and an exhibition of funny visual art. All events take place at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park, MN.

Saturday, 1/20 @ 7:30 PM – STANDUP: Adam Grabowski

The festival kicks off on Saturday, January 20 with a performance by comedian Adam Grabowski. Grabowski, one of the most popular comedians on the college stand-up comedy circuit. His act features stories drawn from a two-decade career as a policeman and hilarious spins on pop culture. He has been featured on America’s Got Talent and the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas.

Grabowski was named the APCA Comic of the Year for four years in a row, and is APCA’s most-booked comic. $15 advance/$18 same day

Sunday, 1/21 @ 2 pm – FILM: The Last Laugh

You might not think that the Holocaust could ever be a vein of humor, but some of the world’s finest Jewish comedians are out to prove you wrong. This 2016 Tribeca Film Festival favorite explores taboos in humor, complete with anecdotes by Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Rob Reiner, Joan Rivers, Jerry Lewis, and more. $10 advance/$12 same day

Monday, 1/22 @ 7:30 PM – THEATRE: Really Spicy Opera presents A Pickle

Explore what it means to be Jewish in Minnesota with a big slice of the Minnesota State Fair, anti-pickle prejudice, and a barrel of laughs! This hit play by Deborah is based on the real-life story of children’s book author Doris Rubenstein, who discovered that State Fair judges had been quietly tossing kosher brine pickles for decades, thinking that they were spoiled.

A Pickle stars Angela Timberman and is directed by Basil Considine. This one-woman comedy play was the best-selling show by capacity at the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival, overselling its run, winning an encore, and selling out that, too. A follow-up at Bryant-Lake Bowl also sold out; advance reservations strongly suggested. Honors include the Arts Reader‘s Best of Fringe award and BroadwayWorld-Minneapolis awards for Best Original/New Work Best Actress in a Play (Angela Timberman). $10 advance/$12 same day

A promotional image for Really Spicy Opera’s production of A Pickle. Image by Angela Sorenson.

Wednesday, 1/24 @ 7:30 PM – Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel: A Conversation with Eli Valley

A conversation with comics writer and illustrator Eli Valley about his full-length work Diaspora Boy. Valley’s comics have been called sardonic, ironic, and intense, to list just a few adjectives; his work is as controversial as it is bitingly funny. The LA Review of Books called Diaspora Boy “One of the most fascinating and darkly humorous books in living memory.”

The local comedy trio The Chosen Few opens. $12 advance/$14 same day

Promotional art for Diaspora Boy.

Thursday, 1/25 @ 7:30 PM – COMEDY: Gina Gold and Wendy Berkowitz

This double-header features the African American Jewish humorist Gina Gold and local comedian Wendy Berkowitz. Gold, whose accomplishments include film, stage, and radio work, has been featured on NPR’s Snap Judgment and is the producer of TMI (Too Much Information). Berkowitz was a 2016 finalist for The Joke Joint’s Funniest Person in Minnesota competition and was a featured performer at the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston, MA. 18+ audiences. $12 advance/$14 same day

Comedian Gina Gold.

Saturday, 1/27 @ 7:30 PM – COMEDY: Jess Salomon & DeAnne Smith

A queer-tinged comedy evening featuring lesbian comics Jess Salomon and DeAnne Smith, hosted by Emily Saltzman of JPRIDE. Salomon, a former UN war crimes lawyer, has written for VICE magazine and been featured in San Francisco Sketchfest, the Laughing Skull Festival, the Boston Comedy Festival, the Cape Fear Comedy Festival, and The Ice Breakers Festival, among others. Smith, a veteran of Last Comic Standing, The Late Late Show, and The Comedy Network, balances Salomon’s Jewish voice with her decidedly non-Jewish one. 18+ audiences. $15 advance/$18 same day

Comedians Jess Salomon (left) and Deanne Smith (right).

Sunday, 1/28 @ 1 PM – WORKSHOP: ARTrageous Mad-Lib Collages

This family-friendly workshop is hosted by Amanda Vallone, the owner of ARTrageous Adventures. A Mad-Lib-driven story adventure is shaped by audience participation, culminating in creating visual collages. Bringing pictures of family members and pets is recommended. $5 per person; children 4 and under free. Children under 12 must be supervised by an adult.

A promotional photo for the ARTrageous workshop.

Open now through Sunday, 1/28 – GALLERY: Picture This: Encountering Humor

An exhibition of humorous photographs by Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School photography students, art instructor Victoria Thor, and local artist Debra Fisher Goldstein.

A featured photo from the gallery exhibition.

The 2018 Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival runs January 20-28 at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park, MN. Tickets and additional information can be found online.

Twin Cities Arts Reader