There is no better way to celebrate Chanukah that I can think of than to treat yourself to a marvelously funny and warm antidote to NYC’s cold winter nights than to spend it in the company of the redoubtable Monica Piper, whose one-woman show, “Not That Jewish” is a unparalled delight.
Off-Broadway at the below ground Urban Stages, “Not That Jewish” is one of those remarkable joys that only New York Theater can bring. You go in not know what to expect then stumble upon a play and in this case an amazing woman that totally surprises you and blows you away at the same time.
I mean you have to love a woman who named herself after the Santa Monica Pier.(She dropped the “Santa” and added a couple of letters one wild and wooly night in Los Angeles.) And though I had never heard of her before, she has had quite an outstanding career in Comedy all over the country doing stand-up for over four decades.
Not young, the impish Piper will steal your heart with her hilarity and her incredibly fit, compact body and Yiddishe soul. She’s an Emmy award- winning comedy writer for “Rugrats” and also was picked personally by Roseanne to write for “Roseanne” in its’ hey-day, and “Not That Jewish” shows you why. I kept marveling at how incredibly well written it was.But Ms. Piper is not just going for the laugh-a-minute kind of slam-bang show like the current “Oh Hello” is. Hers is a much more subtle mission. She wants you to love her life story and to love her. And you do.
She’s a twice married(I lost count) single Mom, and though it’s the story of finding her own comic voice in the Man’s world of stand-up, not an easy thing to do in the days she was coming up in the clubs, it’s really in the end the story of her adoption of a Christian son, and trying to bring him up Jewish.
“I was a stay-at-hotel Mom,” she brusquely quips. And it is her heart-ache and joy bringing up Jake that really clobbers you in the end. I, who don’t have any children and am not Jewish, didn’t want to have kids, but by the end she totally converted me to both causes, declaring that Jake had turned out to be, after much strum und drang, “a mensch.” It’s a truly beautiful moment when she says that world. Magical simple heart-felt.
Monica Piper is only warming up our stages until January 29. I recommend “Not That Jewish” as the perfect Christmas show, too. Disgruntled Grinch-y gentiles will rejoice in Monica’s warm Yiddishe mama of a show.