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Jewish Journal

A Night of Texan Jewish Humor

by Naomi Pfefferman

June 10, 1999 | 8:00 pm

There is something inherently funny about growing up Jewish in Texas, says comic Allan Murray. Maybe it was all the well-meaning people who wished him a "Happy Chaka Kahn" at Chanukah. Maybe it was learning about female anatomy in junior high, "which scared the hell out of me because my grandfather's name is 'Hyman.'"

Whatever the reason, by the early 1990s, Murray, now in his 30s, was proffering his cartoonesque, stream-of-conscious musings about the absurdities of life at The Laugh Factory, The Improvisation and "Fox's Comic Strip Live."

You can catch him on Wednesday, at 8 p.m., at Club Caprice at the Strand in Redondo Beach, where he's headlining "A Night of Jewish Humor IV," presented by The Jewish Federation -- South Bay Council. The other comics are Hiram Kasten ("Seinfeld," The Improv), Steve Mittleman ("The Tonight Show," "Letterman") and Betsy Salkind ("Tonight Show"). Proceeds will benefit the Jewish Federation's United Jewish Fund.

Murray, for his part, does his rabbi as Goofy, improvises a "New Talking Bible" cast with Casey Kasem, and a commercial for "101 Hindu Hits." He imitates bloody encounters with a Water Wiggle, "the most vicious and sadistic toy ever created by man."

When he's performing for Jewish groups, Murray, named "one of the 90 people to look out for in the '90s" by The Hollywood Reporter, likes to do his impression of every Jewish person at a church service. He looks around, makes a face that says, "feh," then asks: "Where's the food? Not a cookie or a piece of cake in the place."

"Jewish people could never handle something like a Catholic communion ceremony," says Murray, who's been on "NewsRadio," "Caroline in the City" and is co-starring in the film "Damned If You Do," with David Alan Grier. "We would take the wafer out of our mouths and say, 'Excuse me, do you think I could get a little shmear of cream cheese on this? It's very dry."

Why does Murray like Jewish gigs such as the Bar Mitzvah Show at the Montreal Comedy Festival? "When you perform for Jewish crowds, you can use words like yenta or make a mah-jongg reference," he says. "You know everyone's going to get it."

The comedy program, which includes a silent auction before show time, costs $25 per person with open seating, or $100 for a VIP package that includes two tickets and preferred seating. A one-drink minimum is required and a special singles seating section is available. Participants must be at least 18 years of age. The Strand is located at 1700 Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach. For information, call (310) 540-2631..


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