"It's an Italian-Jewish mother thing. They don't understand that you're not hungry anymore!"
Everybody loved Ray Romano as he broke the crowd with his anecdotal material in that trademark nasal whine. Romano, impressionist extraordinaire Kevin Pollak and Lewinsky-fixated comedian Richard Jeni headlined a long lineup of stand-ups who performed at the third annual Kosher Comedy Night fund-raiser, hosted by the United Jewish Fund's Entertainment Division. The event -- whose sponsors included Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, Creative Artists Agency, Endeavor, Three Arts Entertainment, Linda and Cary Meadow and Jon Turtletaub -- was held last month at the Laugh Factory, with proceeds going to the Jewish Federation's breadth of social programs.
The night's unbilled surprise came well before the comedians even hit the stage, with the arrival of Howard Stern, perhaps the most talked about radio personality in the history of the medium. On spectator status, Stern was ushered by his small entourage upstairs to the VIP lounge, where the shock jock attempted in vain to remain incognito. Despite efforts to keep journalists, photographers and well-wishers away, Up Front penetrated Stern's defenses for a fleeting one-on-one. And contrary to the bluster and braggadocio of his on-air persona, the self-proclaimed King of All Media was uncharacteristically shy and sincere when explaining the circumstances of his surprise West Coast appearance.
"I'm out here on business," said Stern. "We were out with some friends, and we came to say hi."
Despite nearly upstaging those on stage, Stern's unscheduled appearance was a feather in the cap for the Entertainment Division, which raised more than $50,000 by night's end.
As D.L. Hughley worked the audience, Up Front mingled with event co-chair Brad Krevoy and his charming wife, Susie. Krevoy , producer of lowbrow comedy classics "Dumb and Dumber" and "Kingpin," modestly downplayed his significant contribution to the program. Over by the sushi platter, Susie Krevoy introduced Up Front to real-estate-agent-to-the-stars Sharona (Yes, that Sharona) Alperin, who pithily summed up the night's raison d'être: "There's nothing better than laughing!" -- Michael Aushenker, Community Editor