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Clip: Good for the Jews in Chicago

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  • Carl Z.
    This seems like the musical equivalent of San Francisco s Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2006
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      This seems like the musical equivalent of San Francisco's Kung Pao
      Kosher Comedy <http://www.koshercomedy.com/> show.

      <http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/chi-0612220162dec22,1,3195151.story?coll=chi-ent_music-hed>

      Good for the Jews duo offer a great time for all

      By Joshua Klein
      Special to the Tribune
      Published December 22, 2006

      As co-founder of New York's irreverent rock duo What I Like About Jew,
      Rob Tannenbaum took Jewish pride to satiric heights and giddy
      self-deprecating lows, to great success. But as a music editor at
      Blender magazine, Tannenbaum's well versed in music industry
      realpolitik, so he harbors no illusions as to the mainstream
      commercial viability of Jewish music, however clever and funny.

      "Barbra Streisand, Kenny G. and Neil Diamond have all recorded
      Christmas albums," notes Tannenbaum, whose "Chanukah/Hanukkah" tour
      brings his new band Good for the Jews (formed with David Fagin of the
      power-pop act the Rosenbergs) to FitzGerald's Christmas Eve. "Phil
      Spector produced one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time.
      `White Christmas' was written by a Jew. If you're going to make any
      money in this business, you're going to have to court the goyim."

      Indeed, while "Christian music" has evolved into a genre unto itself,
      the number of "Jewish" albums in any record store remains in the
      minority.

      "Things are changing," notes a hopeful Joshua Neuman, editor in chief
      if the Jewish-themed magazine Heeb, rooting for the home team
      underdogs. "The tide is turning. It used to be Jewish music was either
      a punchline or the subject of an academic dissertation."

      Come Christmas time, however, the tables of commerce get turned. With
      tens of millions of Christian families stuck at home for the holiday,
      Jews (and other non-Christians) take to the virtually deserted streets
      in search of fun and distraction on the sleepiest night of the year.

      "On Christmas Day we'll eat Chinese, walk empty streets until we
      freeze," goes one wry line in the winkingly wistful "It's Good to Be A
      Jew at Christmas," one of the first songs Tannenbaum wrote, and is a
      hallmark of Good for the Jews. "Once a year the city's ours alone."

      "That's the old joke," says Tannenbaum. So ... what we're trying to
      say is you should come to the show because there's nothing else to
      do!"

      "What I Like About Jew" helped spur a movement in New York to keep at
      least a few clubs open for the Chosen People, a tradition Tannenbaum
      hopes Good for the Jews will continue to spread. Yet despite the
      heavily Jewish-themed songs and humor, Tannenbaum would like to extend
      an invitation to Jews and non-Jews alike. In fact, Tannenbaum claims a
      large percentage of the crowd is typically composed of non-Jews, which
      demands the question: How can you tell?

      "Do you know Totie Fields?" asks Tannenbaum. "She was a great Jewish
      comedian. Once she was booked on the `Mike Douglas Show' with Gene
      Simmons [real name: Chaim Weiss] from KISS. She joked that underneath
      all that make-up he was probably just a nice Jewish boy. So Simmons
      asks her, 'how can you tell?' and she points to his nose and shoots
      back `you can't hide the hook!'" (A quick search of YouTube for the
      clip, from 1974, confirms the non-P.C. anecdote.)

      But stereotypes aside, Tannenbaum has a practical approach to the
      nightly Jew/not Jew census.

      "At the start of each show we actually ask everyone in the crowd who
      is not Jewish to raise their hand," he says. "And then I turn to
      everyone else and yell: get 'em!"



      Good for the Jews

      When: 8 p.m. Friday

      Where: FitzGerald's, 6615 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn

      Price: $15; 708-788-2118
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