After two years of virtual programming, the Minnesota JCC’s Twin Cities Jewish Humor Festival is back in person with events throughout March. “We can’t wait for this year’s Humor Fest – in person!” said Riv Shapiro, Minnesota JCC Arts & Culture producer. “As we make our way through the long Minnesota winter, there’s nothing like laughing together in community.”
Friday, March 3, 11:30 a.m., Capp Center St. Paul
Cost: $15 members/$18 non-members
Ben Cohen, Minnesota JCC’s director of Jewish Arts, Culture & Enrichment said this first event is a throwback to a program that the St. Paul JCC used to run, of a pre-Shabbat lunch with entertainment.
“We piloted a special Shabbat launch during Hanukkah and it was successful, so we’re incorporating it into Humor Fest this year,” he said. The entertainment will be comedian Elise Cole, a St. Paul resident who features regularly at Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis. Her debut album is coming out this spring on Helium Comedy Records.
“We had been talking with Elise for almost two years about ideas for Humor Fest,” Cohen said. Cole had been the opening act for the Humor Fest’s headlining show in 2019. “It’s awesome to have her doing a program with us.”
Sunday, March 12, 2 p.m., ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen at the West End
Film Rated R
Come celebrate “The Dude” and the Coen brothers’ classic with a special 25th-anniversary screening of The Big Lebowski. Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore star in this Coen brothers’ cult comedy about the “Dude,” his buddies, a case of mistaken identity, kidnapping, and bowling.
This is the second JCC arts& culture event celebrating the work of the Coen Brothers, after the bar mitzvah party for A Serious Man during last fall’s Jewish Film Festival.
“It wasn’t enough to just show Lebowski. We want to create experiences to gather and be together in a fun atmosphere,” Cohen said. “Finding a bowling alley and theater practically connected — there aren’t many places to do that. But we’re excited to be at West End of the screening and party, and then free bowling at Punch Bowl Social.”
Thursday, March 16, 7 p.m., Sabes Center Minneapolis
COST: $15 in advance/$20 at the door
ASL interpretation provided.
Cohen said the “Night of Jewish Storytelling” event already has a reputation larger than you’d expect for a third-year program. “I think we have a great lineup of people who are workshopping stories,” he said. “Humor isn’t always standup or knee-slapping jokes. Some of these are going to have dark humor.
Inspired by live storytelling shows like The Moth, local community members will share original and true stories that celebrate the absurd and hilarious parts of the Jewish experience. This evening will have something for everyone! Storytellers will receive coaching from professional storyteller and story coach Amy Salloway.
This year’s participants include Richard Schwartz, Gloria Fredkove, Niza Schear, Amy Salloway, Tamar Fenton, Bruce Manning, and Gary Gilson.
“It’s a really special night within Humor Fest,” Cohen said.
Saturday, March 25, 8:30 p.m.. Capp Center St. Paul
COST: $20 in advance/$25 at the door
ASL interpretation provided.
Robby Hoffman & Jared Goldstein were part of last year’s virtual Humor Fest, and Cohen is thrilled that they will be in person co-headlining the Queer Comedy Night.
“We had an amazing virtual night with them, but it will be totally different than seeing them do a 5- or 10-minute set on Zoom,” Cohen said. “These are two comedians that people should know. If you don’t come, in five years you’re going to say ‘I can’t believe I missed them when they were at the JCC.”
Queer Comedy Night is co-sponsored by J-Pride, Keshet and Spit Take Comedy.
“Historically, [Queer Comedy Night] has been a really important and exciting program in Humor Fest. Creating visibility for our LGBTQ community and artists is something we’re really proud of and is really important,” Cohen said. “When we think of inclusivity as a value, that program just shines for us.”