For the best stand-ups, go to shul

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

ON YOM Kip­pur I made my first visit to syn­a­gogue since my daugh­ter’s bat­mitz­vah in March, when, just be­fore com­menc­ing the ser­vice, the rabbi an­nounced “No record­ing equip­ment of any kind is al­lowed.”

E very­thing was go­ing without a hitch, un­til I stood up with the rest of the con­gre­ga­tion, and the sil­ver cas­sette recorder (about the size of a 1lb packet of Tate and Lyle gran­u­lated su­gar), with a 10in-long mi­cro­phone at­tached, that I’d hid­den un­der my chair, got en­tan­gled in my tal­lis and dan­gled there by my knee about a foot off the ground.

The rabbi was stand­ing di­rectly fac­ing me; he had to have seen it, but if he did, he didn’t show it — not even a flicker. He’d make a great poker player, I thought.

So to be on the safe side, I thought it best to avoid him… to­day of all days.

When I ar­rived at the shul, a cou­ple of young guys in dark suits were on duty out­side the door.

“Good morn­ing.” I said to one of them, a lanky young man in glasses. He looked vaguely fa­mil­iar.

He looked at me. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I know you! You’re the guy who walked out of my stand-up show at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe last year! You walked out, right in the mid­dle of my act!” I looked at him again.. It was him! In Au­gust 2008 I’d gone to the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val Fringe, and one night I’d gone to see a young Jewish stand-up co­me­dian. I can’t sit down for stand-up, I’m a fid­get, it was a hot, packed room — think the size of a very large match­box.

The co­me­dian was a funny guy, and the au­di­ence loved him, but af­ter about 20 min­utes I was so fid­gety and sweaty that dur­ing one of the ap­plauses, I made a run for the exit — but he spot­ted me. “I’ve got to go!” I said, div­ing through the door.

As I did, I heard him make a re­mark that sug­gested I was lack­ing in the sense of hu­mour depart­ment.

I stopped, and re opened the door.

“I’ve got a din­ner reser­va­tion!” I shouted to the au­di­ence.

And now, here he was again, stand­ing be­tween me and the door of the shul on Yom Kip­pur.

I mean, what are the odds of that hap­pen­ing?

It was un­be­liev­able! And the crazy thing was that over a year later he was still up­set.

I edged to­wards the door; he stepped in front of me.

“How can you re­mem­ber that it was me that walked out of your show!?” I said.

“I re­mem­ber you, it still hurts.” he said.

“Look, I’m re­ally, re­ally sorry I walked out. My daugh­ter was arriving at the train sta­tion. I had to go and meet her for din­ner. We had a reser­va­tion! You were very funny.” “Re­ally?” He said. “Yes re­ally. Very funny,” I said. “Can I come in now ? “No.” “What do you mean ‘no!’? Don’t you know what to­day is? Yom Kip­pur! It’s the Day of Atone­ment! And here I am now, per­son­ally aton­ing to you for walk­ing out of your show — come on! You’ve got to ad­mit my tim­ing’s good!”

Just at that mo­ment, the door opened — it was my daugh­ter, Lily. “Dad what are you do­ing? Are you com­ing in? The ser­vice is just about to start.”

I looked at him... he looked at me. Re­luc­tantly he held the door open.

“Ok,” he said, “but just make sure you stay to the end.”

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