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Tales of Hoffman

January 1, 2009 By:
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Who better to wish a happy-so-what's-nu-year than Jackie ... oy?

The woman who challenges audiences to kvetch her when they can has had a career that's careened from clubs to Broadway and back.

And, now, Hoffman, whose Silly Putty features put her in the class act of first-rate frenetic physical comics, has put it all on the record: The award-winning star of "The Kvetching Continues" and "Jackie With a Z" zeroes in on "Jackie Hoffman: Live at Joe's Pub," her hangout for hilarity when she's not a musical muse in "Xanadu" or a shpritz of shtick in "Hairspray."

She waxes lyrical about being Jewish on the CD -- notably because she wrote the numbers' lyrics. And, just in case you forget, she won't let you: "You Are Jewish" is her "I Am Woman" for the woe-begotten. Buddhist as boo-boo?:

"You've traded in the Talmud for the Tao/Join a shul and stop this right now/Did I forget to mention you're a Jew?/If it's good enough for Madonna/It's good enough for you."

Esther never saw it coming. But come Shavuoth, Jews worldwide will have their own theme song:

"It's Shavuoth, it's Shavuoth/ There is such excitement going through us./It's so much fun to be a Jewess; go to temple and pray./It's Shavuoth today."

But tomorrow ... If ever there were a woman/wonk to bring audiences the best of Shemini Atzeret, she'd be the best at it.

"Yes," she says with that holiday spirit, "it's high time for a song about Shemini Atzeret."

And these are good times for the 48-year-old TV/film/recording star. But the tales of Hoffman are often backed with a serious premise. After all -- hysterectomy as hilarity?

Operating Candidly
Two years ago, Hoffman had her own regrets while performing in "Regrets Only," having a hysterectomy while having a tumor removed.

It was benign, which is more than one can say for her vituperative take on the tumor during her shows. Post-op punch lines: Cancel the cancer, but the show went on.

Fun with fibroids?

"I have stage roles by the score./I have fans and friends galore./I have all of that and more./And I almost had canCER!"

She's got the hip audience in her hip pocket because even as Hoffman knows that love means never having to say you've got tsuris, "nothing will make the Jewish world happy."

A modern-day Bella Bart?

"Thank you," she says with a bow in her voice for the comparison to the late legendary funny foul-mouthed Jewish singer who believed that the milk of human kindness was a kick better when it curdled into sour cream.

But then, Hoffman's American Jewish idols never cowled before sarcasm. "I grew up loving Allan Sherman," who put the camp in Camp Grenada, "and Tom Lehrer," whose humor smacked of "Smut" -- in a good way. After all, it was Lehrer's "Hanukah in Santa Monica" that was California dreamin' for so many non-blue-eyed, non-blonde Jews amid a surfeit of surfers.

"I loved their irreverent tone," she says of her idiosyncratic icons.

Name that tone; hers remains the same, "edgy, irreverent, I want to combine all things savagely funny."

Funny, she grew up happy. Sort of. So what makes her all the rage these days is really all the rage she experienced going through school, "where I was made fun of."

Who knew then that one day Hoffman would become a riot of Jewish royalty as one of the stars of "The J.A.P. Show, Jewish American Princesses of Comedy," which played the Actors' Temple in New York.

She could have gone anywhere but she went to ... yeshiva. "That has something to do with my humor, too," she says of those school daze.

But what she's interested in now is not so much another one-woman show as a part for her ... body part.

Sequel to "The Vagina Monologues"? No, she explains, but "my former uterus is in talks for its own show." 

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