A typical Jewish schedule for Christmas Day begins with waking up late, taking in a matinee at the local cineplex, and wolfing down some lo mein. But then what?
City Winery has the answer: a night of Jewish stand-up comedy. For one night, the Winery becomes-the Whinery!
Evanston native Joel Chasnoff, who produces the show, returns as the emcee. Chasnoff has been doing professional stand-up for more than 15 years. He's performed everywhere from the Montreal Comedy Festival to Israeli late-night TV-some 1,000 events in 10 countries.
Chasnoff produced Christmas for the Jews at City Winery in New York for four years before trying it in Chicago last year. "It was a great success," Chasnoff says of last December's Chicago show. "We had a full house. That's why we're coming back."
Chasnoff was a camper and counselor at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and attended Solomon Schechter in Skokie, where he was the only eighth grader who got cut from the Schechter Lions basketball team. "And that's why I went into comedy," he says.
He then went to Evanston High School and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the head writer and director of Mask and Wig, America's oldest all-male comedy group. He then volunteered for a combat unit of the Israeli Army. Chasnoff's book, The 188 th Crybaby Brigade , chronicles his military service, from basic training through service in Lebanon.
Jon Fisch, a veteran comedian of David Letterman's and Stephen Colbert's late-night shows, is flying in from New York to do the show. The Jewish Boston native has opened for Jerry Seinfeld, participated in Last Comic Standing , and hosted a TV show called Three Men and a Chick Flick . Fisch's podcast is called In the Tank .
Also on the bill is a stand-up rabbi, Barry Schechter. Schechter grew up in London and earned both his Economics masters and rabbinic ordination there, but then he did even more graduate work at Northwestern University, and stayed. He lives in Morton Grove, and, for more than 20 years, was the rabbi for Skokie's Congregation Kol Emeth. His TV series Yiddish and Laughter received a Telly Award.
Most of City Winery's entertainment offerings involve music, and Christmas for the Jews is no exception. Before the comics storm the stage, guitarist Ed Shulman will welcome attendees with some acoustic and electric blues.
City Winery Chicago is located at 1200 W. Randolph Street. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, available at www.citywinery.com/chicago or by calling (312) 733-9463.