Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.

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Bar Mitzvah

By Milt Abel | October 16, 2011

| October 16, 2011

Bar Mitzvah

Last night I was part of the entertainment at a Bar Mitzvah in Seattle, a three hour drive from my front door. The people who hired me were charming, and the dee-jay who ran the show -the constant music, kids’ activities, and dancing, was outstanding; me? not so much.

I don’t know what to expect when doing stand-up comedy in front of thirteen-year olds, but complete failure isn’t one of them. It turns out the Bar Mitzvah boy was a huge fan of stand-up comedy and the parent sprung for a professional comic to perform at his party. I’m a professional comic, and I performed at his party, but somehow I don’t think they got what they wanted. I’ve should have been wary when all the banquet table had pictures of famous comedians; Robin Williams, Woopie goldberg, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld -but no Milt Abel. A little tabletop support would have been nice.

The event took place at the Great Hall at Geenlake in northern Seattle, and let me say, what a beautiful neighborhood. A large lake, an indoor public pool, jogging, outdoor basketball courts, baseball, and open fields, all contained in a park with a large Starbucks just across the street. I thought it would be a lovely place to live until I got caught in the same traffic heading south into Seattle, at 10:30 at night, that I noticed driving up at 4:30 in the afternoon – on a Saturday.  No wonder Amazon’s online store started in Seattle, who has time to drive anywhere if it’s faster to walk?

My show failed because the hall’s audience was split into two groups; 35 or so eight to fifteen-year olds sat immediately in front of the stage. and then the dance floor, and then  some unoccupied tables, and then 50 or so adults huddled in the back. The kids were loud and distracting, the adults disengaged. Still, I did my best; tried to have a good time and present a good time to everyone; and we had some laughs, and I know the young man the event was all about seemed pleased, if not tickled, to have a full-grown stand-up comic working right at the end of where he had propped his feet up on the stage.

I don’t want to sound bitter about this, I was happy to have the work; and I think the parents were pleased that a comic came and did their event -and no one got hurt. But better shows I’ve had. I’ll admit too that I was a unnecessarily nervous about being a non-Jew. Everyone thinks I’m Jewish, though I’m not, and I feared they had hired me assuming I was Jewish. I was anxious that I might say something on stage that no Jew would ever say, and they’d point open-mouthed, wailing like the beings did in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatcher, and start chasing me about the room trying to make me one of them.

Despite my 35 minutes of struggling to get through my show the party was a success. Mostly because of the caterers and the parents and that great deejay, Matt. After my set the desserts came out and the music started and the party became… a party. A tradition I knew nothing about; is lifting the Bar Mitzvah boy on a chair, other notables at the event could also be lifted; the legs of the chair working as the hoists, strong men underneath, and spun around for all to applaud and enjoy. It really was fun to see and help applaud for. I wouldn’t mind a reaction like that after a more successful show, carried about the room like an African king.

Tonight, Sunday, at dinner I was explaining the tradition to my wife. “They lifted the Bar Mitzvah boy in a chair, then his mother, then the older brother, then the father, and then the grandfather.”

My wife asked, “At the same time?”

“Yes,” I said. “They were a Chinese-Jewish family that did a chair balancing act. All of them, one on top of the other, with grandpa at the top.”

Next month maybe I’ll work for a Catholic ninja group, where the wafer host will be tossed onto observers’ tongues like ninja throwing stars.

Topics: comedy, humor, travel | No Comments »

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