Why "Jason Neufeld is Impotent" – an interview with Humor Festival performer Alix Sobler

On February 27th and 28th, award-winning New York native-turned-Winnipegger Alix Sobler will be performing her one-woman revenge comedy show “Jason Neufeld is Impotent” at the Minneapolis Jewish Humor Festival.
TC Jewfolk Editor in Chief Leora Maccabee caught up with Alix this week in advance of the show.
LM: Tell us about Jason Neufeld is Impotent. Who is Jason? And does he know you’ve made a play about him?
AS: Jason Neufeld is my ex boyfriend who is a total jerk. He definitely knows I have written this show because it was a huge hit at the Winnipeg Fringe in 2007. Some people might think its unhealthy that I am performing this show nearly four years after our break up, but I say you keep going until you’ve excised all your demons. Besides, I consider the title to be a public service announcement.
LM: Why did you write this play? Is there a message that you want your audience to take from the play?
AS: I wrote JNII because I had a story that I needed to tell. I like to put my failures and miseries onstage for other people to laugh at. Not because I am a masochist, but because I find that somehow, that makes other people feel better about themselves. Pretty much everyone can relate to a break-up story, even if their ex isn’t as moronic as Jason Neufeld. Sharing the pain of those memories makes them a little easier to bare.
LM: Is your humor Jewish? And what does that even mean, anyway?
AS: Um, hell yeah my humor is Jewish. I come from a long line of proud Jewish smart-asses and I have them to thank for everything that is funny about me, from my accent to my nose. I think Jewish Humor depends on the comedian, but for the most part, its the comedy of the oppressed, and for obvious reasons. We laugh because the only other option is to cry. Which we do plenty, by the way. But it doesn’t get good ratings. Every generation has to find their own “Jewish Humor” voice based on the hardships they faced. My grandparents had the Holocaust, I have Jason Neufeld.
LM: Do you think Jews are more funny than other ethnic groups? And if not, how would you explain the large number of awesome Jewish comedians?

AS: I don’t think Jews are biologically funnier, but we have definitely developed a reputation. My guess is Jewish humor evolved as a survival tactic. Can’t out run them? Can’t out fight them? Can’t out smart them? Better make them laugh. As for numbers, I can only imagine that there are a lot of us Jewish comedians who didn’t have a lot of choices. It was either become a doctor, marry one or get into show biz.
LM: Tell us more about your work in Winnipeg. Do you mostly perform your own work? What are some of your other shows?
AS: Let me tell you, every little girl dreams about growing up in New York and moving to Winnipeg to make it big in theatre. I work as an actor for hire as well, but lately I have been very lucky to be able to write and perform in my own stuff. Over the summer I had a huge hit at the Fringe called “She’s Not There” which was a three character comedy about the curse of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (don’t know what it is? Google it.) This spring, my play “Somethings You Keep” will have its world premiere at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre.
It’s funny, because although they are always comedic, the plays I write are very personal, often dealing with my own tragedies and sex life. (Ahem, mutually exclusive subjects, naturally.) I also do a lot of comedy on the radio for CBC, also all personal storytelling. It makes living in a small city like Winnipeg hard. Like I will be standing on line at Starbucks and someone will be looking at me strange, and I have to wonder, did they see my last solo show, or do I have something on my face?
LM: Is this your first time in the Twin Cities? Are you excited?
AS: This is my first time in the Twin Cities! I am excited! I expect it to be like one long Doublemint commercial. Like, when I get there will I be set up with my own doppleganger? I have always wanted a buddy to ride tandem bikes with and wear matching hot pants. It will be like a dream come true.
LM: Do you think Minneapolis is funnier than Winnipeg? Winnipeg definitely sounds funnier.
AS: Hard to say. Winnipeg is HILARIOUS, what with the -40 degree temperatures and massive Mennonite population. Its pretty much a laugh riot here all the time. Although Minneapolis is in Minnesota which does have a comedic Gubernatorial history…at the moment I think that one is too close to call.

Don’t miss Alix Sobler at the Minneapolis Jewish Humor Festival Sat. 2/27 at 7pm and Sun. 2/28 at 9pm. Tickets are $10. Buy them online on the Humor Festival website or at the door at the Sabes JCC. The 2010 Minneapolis Jewish Humor Festival runs from February 25 – March 7 and will combine one-act plays, one-person shows, music performance, stand-up routines, improvisational comedy, story-telling, film, visual art and more—all celebrating the Jewish contribution to the world of humor.

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