How do you discuss virginity with a class of American university students without the conversation sounding irrelevant to their lives or, worse, an exercise in exoticizing another culture? Women, sex and culture can be a Bermuda Triangle that threatens to demolish discussion through either defensiveness — when students feel compelled to defend a cultural practice — or superiority — when students feel compelled to parade their culture as being above whatever cultural challenges are being discussed. The personal is not only political, but it demolishes that Bermuda Triangle. I got a powerful reminder about that in September when I taught a course on gender and new media in the Middle East, in Oklahoma. We had watched the Lebanese film “Caramel,” directed by and starring Nadine Labaki, as the owner of a Beirut hair salon whose friends and co-workers portray a cross-section of Lebanese female experience.
To prove she could still tawk Joan Rivers created "Broke and Alone in L.A."
"I wanted to see if people who didn't know me would think I was funny," said the comedian, who premiered the monologue two years ago at Scotland's Edinburgh Festival.
At the time, Rivers was alone, but not broke, after splitting with her multimillionaire boyfriend.
"I didn't want to sit around and mope, and the show got me off my tush," she said.
When Renee Taylor was growing up in the Bronx, her relatives described packaging matzah for Palestine with Golda Meir in the 1920s.
"A Jewish friend of mine loves 'The Sopranos,'" Italian American actor Joe Bologna said with a groan. "I told him, 'How'd you like to see a show called "The Goldsteins" about white-collar criminals and the biggest shyster is Izzy Goldstein?"
Bologna isn't about to play Izzy, but he is the co-author and star of a monologue he said breaks ethnic and gangster stereotypes. In "Meyer," he portrays Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky -- previously depicted in films such as "Bugsy" (1991) -- as both a ruthless thug and a pathetic alter-kacker. At the beginning of the play, the character sips Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda and kvetches about Israel denying him citizenship under the Law of Return.
The ghost of Lenny Bruce still haunts North Hollywood.
Just around the corner from the Lankershim Boulevard hobby shop where Bruce was busted for heroin in 1962, "Lenny's Back" at the American Renegade Theatre offers a thoughtful, stinging monologue from the grave.
The whole time Stacie Chaiken was growing up, nobody discussed her great-grandfather, Louie."My Grandpa Irving refused to speak about his father. Ever," says Chaiken, whose monologue, "Looking for Louie," is premiering at Pacific Resident Theatre.
Fred Rochlin can't understand all the fuss over his monologue, "Old Man in a Baseball Cap," about his adventures during World War II.
"I'm not an actor," he insists. "I'm an old guy."
"I went into therapy because I needed to resolve a horrible conflict," Martin Lewis reveals in his delightfully cheeky one-man show, "Great Exploitations! An Audience With Martin Lewis." "I happen to be obviously British, but also Jewish."