April 13, 2006
Ding Dong! Rabbi Calling
His turn on is making single Jewish women laugh. His hometown is Jewtown, Calif. He puts his age at 99 (although he looks at least 50 years younger). His occupation is comedian/dancer/male model -- and rabbi. Yes, the tzitzit-wearing, black-bearded Rabbi Rabbs (a.k.a. Hershel Remer) is in a class by himself.
Rabbs (as he likes to be called) is the uber-Jewish component of Don Barris' wild and wacky pseudo-reality "The Ding-Dong Show" Monday nights at The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. Rabbs, who doesn't perform if the show falls on a Jewish holiday, lovingly refers to the outrageous cast as "a bunch of degenerate gentiles -- all verifiably nuts. It's a show about crazy people who are comedians -- what could be funnier?"
The unique "major goyisheh comedy show," as Rabbs calls it on his My Space Web site, was the perfect setting for the Jewish day school (YULA) and UCLA alum who spent eight years with the Orthodox Union's West Coast kashrut division before finding his calling. (He also has a sideline working as a UNIX computer specialist.)
"I was born a comedian," said Rabbs, who joined the show in 2001 and refers to himself as "America's Favorite Rabbi Comic." "My mother says I was funny before I could talk."
Rabbs started signing up for amateur nights at The Comedy Store before meeting owner Mitzi Shore, who eventually booked him in regular shows and finally as a "Ding-Dong" cast member.
"I didn't even know what I was doing there for a full year," said Rabbs, who with the 11 other members of the "Ding-Dong Show" cast is currently shooting a follow-up to the 2003 comedy, "Windy City Heat," which featured host Barris. "There are two things that make me different from the cast: One, no member of my family has ever been put in jail, and two, I am not on any psychiatric medications."
Rabbs' distinctive sense of humor shines on the show's Web site, which offers background on each "actor," and includes a message board forum called, "Ask the Rabbi Rabbs," and a thread that Rabbs started earlier this year on "Which chick digs Rabbi Rabbs the most?" (He has several die-hard female followers.)
But there is a serious side to that thread: Rabbs is looking for a "rebbetzin" (rabbi's wife), a search that takes on a greater meaning around Passover.
"I have learned the hard way that Judaism is a religion designed for married people and extremely difficult to be successful at while single," said Rabbs, who's looking for "a Jewish woman who doesn't just want me for my money or my muscular body."
"The Ding-Dong Show," Mondays, 9:30 p.m., The Comedy Store.