West Coast Comic Charms in Toco Hills
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West Coast Comic Charms in Toco Hills

Antonia Lasssar shared her fast-paced comedy routine peppered with singing and contrasting varying streams of Judaism.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Antonia Lassar led the audience in a 10-minute round of “Soften Me Up.” She is happiest when singing, while her comedy is thought provoking.
Antonia Lassar led the audience in a 10-minute round of “Soften Me Up.” She is happiest when singing, while her comedy is thought provoking.

Jewish Internet sensation Antonia Lassar flew in from Los Angeles for a Saturday night, May 18, performance at Intown Community Church, across the street from Congregation Bet Haverim.

The animated redhead in a denim jumpsuit poured her energetic persona into topics ranging from Jewish inclusion to contrasting differing streams of Judaism. It was raining outside; but inside the audience was laughing, singing, and thinking about her truths that may be said “in jest,” but are well founded through her real-life lens.

Having been raised in a progressive California family where being gay was more “in” than “out,” Lassar told the AJT, “I’m lucky to have grown up in a liberal Reform family, and to have huge queer Jewish communities in L.A. and N.Y.

Queerness and Judaism have always gone hand in hand for me. I grew up going to Passover seders where there were 80 different items on the seder plate to symbolize every single minority identity. My Jewish idol was Debbie Friedman, so I was very familiar with queer Jewish leaders. I joke that in the Reform community you can’t be a rabbi unless you’re bisexual. So now that I’m a proudly queer, proudly Jewish adult, I’m so honored to be able to represent this community … but like in a funny way?”

(From left) Congregation Bet Haverim Musical Director Rebekka Goodman accompanied Rabbi Mike Rothbaum in Havdalah.

Lassar told the AJT that she was a big nerd as a child but dreamed of being the class clown. As a “dorky theatre kid,” she was shy around cool people. She competed in high school speech and debate and did well in the comedy categories. After college, she found her place in the comedy world with sketch and improv in New York, online sketches, then standup.

She shared, “To be honest, I still have to give myself a pep talk before shows to remind myself that I’m funny.”

Her solid hour show is fast paced as Antonia never refers to notes and speaks nonstop with appropriate pauses and audience interaction. And a lot of singing … what an ideal crowd like CBH to assign harmony and have a melodious result. After all, Debbie Friedman is her muse.

Being nonbinary is not as front and center as Judy Gold’s show, for example.

Emily Anzalone, CBH Executive Director Hailey Monette, Cantor Jen Duretz-Peled, and Rabbi Nathan Peled, Davis Academy instructor, enjoyed pre-show wine and cheese.

Lassar is constantly thinking and contrasting … Wear black hats vs. no hats, Frum maybe cooler or are we ruining their culture? Progressives do tikum olam bake sales … Who’s parsha is about frakking?”

Her magical words are meaningful and Ashke-normative. All over the place? Yes. Well thought out? Yes. Hard to describe? Yes. Flowing well? Yes!

In more references to Friedman, Lassar said, “Here we are singing a Havdalah melody by a lesbian. When I’m singing, my body feels normal … hey, am I losing the room? Chabad also loves singing, just not women singing.”

Then she shares an elaborate bit about being baptized. “Maybe because I am an idiot.”

But then it’s her observant mentor who takes her to the Ohel (Rebbie’s grave in Brooklyn) to leave a request letter about her own medical issues, ending, “even a dead rabbi takes a co-pay.”

Then there’s her take on COVID … “what would Dr. Fauci think if he saw how we wash our hands with the same community towel, hug ‘good Shabbos,’ use our hands to pull a piece of challah.”

The bottom line is that Lassar’s openness to learning and practicing combinations of Judaism do stimulate discussion. Her show is refreshing and well performed.

She ends, “These days, I’m obsessed with learning about Judaism, talking s**t about Judaism, and learning about even more things about Judaism that I can talk s**t about. “

Lassar recently headlined “Laugh Boston,” as she’s performed in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and more. Watch for her show in Asheville, N.C., at the JCC on June 20.

When asked if she composes her own material, she said, “Yes. I wish I had the budget to hire a ghostwriter. But for now, all of this shlock is pure moi.”

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