September 18, 2003
Funny, They Don’t Sound Jewish
Laura Bush on Howard Stern; J. Lo waking up with a pimple on her nose; Homer Simpson running for governor of California. No, it's not a slow day on "Live on E!" It's a game of "Scenes from a Hat" -- one of 40 interactive games that improv comedy troupe Â¡The Los Hombres! has in its repertoire. The game, in which audience members write down funny scenes that they would like to see acted out, is just one way the eight-member cast connects with the audience.
"There's something great about improv that doesn't happen in other theater," said Joshua Glazer, the group's founder. "The audience learns what's happening at the exact same time you do. So there's a spark between you and them and it just feeds off it, so everything's funny."
Upon graduation from M.I.T., Glazer founded the Los Angeles-based group two years ago. With its founding members consisting of six men and one woman, the group came to be known ironically as Â¡The Los Hombres!, because of course, "two articles is funnier than one," Glazer said.
But aside from their name, for most of the group's 5 1/2 Jewish members, it is their Jewish background that inspires much of their comedy.
"Jewish humor is, to me, the funniest humor in the world -- the rhythm of Jewish humor and that 'if we don't laugh about it we'll cry instead' philosophy," Jewish cast member and writer Michael Konik said. "Though we are not an overtly Jewish group, I think our sensibility is a very Jewish sense of humor."
Cast member Michael Feldman said that the group is simply perpetuating a trend that can be seen throughout Jewish history -- dealing with tragedy and sadness with humor.
"It's about finding some sort of a recourse through humor to deal with the horrible things that life can give you," Feldman said. "I think that's what we try to do a little bit.... If there are problems in your life and you face that thing, you can find a way to deal with it and process it."
While the troupe members hope that their show can offer the same therapy for their audience as it does for them personally, their primary goal is to inspire laughter.
"Who knows if laughing cures cancer," said Nickie Bryar, the group's Jewish mother (she just had her first baby), one of four women in the troup today. "That would be fantastic. But I think it's really important that people have a good time."
The Los Hombres! performs every Friday in September at the Second City Studio Theatre, 8-9 p.m. 8156 Melrose Ave. Admission $10. For more information, visit www.theloshombres.com .