“S’iz shver tzu zain a yid,” runs an old proverb: it’s hard to be a Jew; yes, but is it hip? Definitely has been, at times (see this blog for two notable testimonies), but, if you hold Village Voice’s “Best of NYC Awards” to be the barometer of coolness, in 2009 we’re coming in only slightly above the freezing point.
Prominently, though, two Russian Jews were singled out: Eugene Mirman as the Best Stand-Up Comedian, and David Stromberg, who got a shout-out as part of the Melville House’s much deserved Best Small Press award. Stromberg’s book of raucous and darkly humorous cartoons, the Baddies, hit the shelves this month; he’s worked with Zeek magazine, and is a writer/critic. Let’s admit it: Russian Jews have become the absurdist messiahs of the dull American golus. I kept my accent all these years, knowing this day will come.
Also, notably, Jon Singer’s Xylopholks received the “Best Buskers Dressed As Animals” laurel — you may have seen this hilarious rag-time band in oversized costumes on the subway or at random klezmer gatherings. Quality performers Michael Winograd and Benji Fox-Rosen who’ve appeared with Xylopholks, also play with half-dozen klezmer outfits.
There’s also a curious bit on David Rothenberg, a publicist, who turned John Herbert’s play about prison life and condition, “Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” into a Broadway hit, and consequently found the Fortune Society, non-for-profit provider of re-entry services for ex-cons. David Rothenberg was also the first openly gay candidate to run for City Council, back in 1973.
The most endearing award this year, however, is the one for “The Best Place To Get a Spanking,” that opens up with: “Have you been bad? Do you deserve a potch on the tuchus?…”
Amen! We know you’re out there.
Watch the Xylopholks video below. And Eugene Mirman below that!