To celebrate Shushan Purim Katan on Feb. 16, Congregation Beth Tefillah hosted 140 guests and three uproarious stand-up comedians at the Punchline Comedy Club in Buckhead.
Rabbi Shmaya Friedman, CBT’s engagement director, who was in charge of the event, said, “Tonight, this ‘Baby Purim’ is symbolic of laughter. We have delayed events because of ‘high risk’ for many months. Now our community is ready to reach out a bit to meet with friends and have a good time.”
The Punchline, which is owned by Jewish attorney and talented stand-up comic Jamie Bendall, provided the perfect venue, along with a huge variety of Chinese menu staples catered by Chai Peking. CBT President Jimmy Baron greeted guests, saying, “We really wanted to do something out of the box, be together and laugh … outside normal events like seders. You can feel the synergy here tonight.”
Baron later appeared onstage cloaked in a shmatta because he allegedly lost his kippah. Having hosted one of Atlanta’s most popular radio shows for years, Baron has not lost his broadcast talent. On stage, he warmed up the audience. “This is not like shul, so put away your cell phones,” he deadpanned.
First up was the headline comic, Dale Jones, who recently moved to Atlanta and starred in “Last Comic Standing.” He took the audience on a wild look back at the pandemic, from making banana bread in every possible way to a low point in fighting over toilet paper. “Please do not take us back to watching ‘Tiger King,’” he joked. “And who remembers waking up with a scratchy throat and thinking, ‘Am I gonna die today?’”
Bendall took the middle spot, delighting the crowd with tales of raising his three daughters as a sports coach for the under-six-year-olds and reevaluating his willingness to drive to their games since gas prices are so high. No one will ever forget his run-in with the Alpharetta Fire Department, which arrived in full force after his daughters’ nightlight started to sizzle, or his tales of married life.
“My nickname is ‘One of Us,’” he joked, “meaning that when my wife says that term, it means I will soon be doing some outrageous chore.” He also wrote himself in as a candidate for Sandy Springs Dispatcher and is eagerly awaiting the vote tally.
Jones was the epitome of the physical comic who bangs, shakes and otherwise contorts himself along with the humor. He claimed to have escaped from prison and other unpleasant “facilities,” feigned licking doorknobs at Home Depot, “waterboarding” himself in the shower, or getting body-scanned at the airport.
It wasn’t hard to imagine him in a rocking chair that was out of control. There was also a segment on Jesus, in which he chided the audience, “Even you should get this, despite your religion.” He compared himself to JFK, MLK, Abe Lincoln and even George Clooney — as long as you “couldn’t see the big E on an eye chart.”
Avi M., who laughed throughout the show, said, “He was authentic and totally crazy!”
Pollter brothers Mandel and Levi chimed in, “Jones was current, relatable and in touch with the crowd. It was also great that he was apolitical. We were literally enthralled.”