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Jewish Journal

A Time ‘Too’ Laugh

by Tom Tugend

March 20, 2003 | 7:00 pm

"May you be reincarnated as a chandelier -- hang all day and burn all night" -- From Avi Hoffman's selection of Yiddish curses upon encountering anti-Semites.



Avi Hoffman, who wowed Los Angeles audiences two years ago in "Too Jewish?" is returning with "Too Jewish, TOO!" In the first show, the 45-year-old comedian, raconteur and educator reminisced about the immigrant generation of great Jewish vaudevillians, such as Menashe Skulnik. The show was a critical and box office success and earned its star an Ovation Award for best actor in a musical, thus spoiling a complete sweep by "The Lion King."

In the current sequel, Hoffman pays tribute to the premier Jewish comedians of the following generations, from Mickey Katz, Jack Benny and George Burns to Woody Allen, Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld. (For those who missed "Too Jewish?" Hoffman will reprise it twice a week during the run of "Too Jewish, TOO!" There's even a special combo price if you buy tickets to both shows.) A TV version of "Too Jewish?" is currently being aired nationally on PBS stations (though not in Los Angeles).

Born in the Bronx, the son of Holocaust survivors, Hoffman has been on stage since age 10 and spent his adolescent years in Israel. His mother teaches Yiddish at Columbia University, and he views his comedy as a form of education too.

"I try to educate through entertainment," Hoffman told The Journal in a phone interview. "I want people to leave the theater with a new pride in their heritage and culture. This is a show for the whole family, in which kids will discover a new world their parents vaguely remember, while allowing grandparents to reminisce about the old days."

The shows are not restricted to full-blooded Jews.

"We welcome half-Jews, quarter-Jews, people married to Jews, and anyone who has ever known a Jew. It's Judaism 101," Hoffman said.

"Two Jewish, TOO!" and "Too Jewish?" runs March 21 through April 13 at the Coronet Theatre, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd. $20-$60. For more information, call (310) 657-7377 or (213) 365-3500.

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