Riffing on being Jewish — and other funny things
When Max Rosenblum returns home to Los Angeles on March 22, it won’t be to simply visit his parents or check out his favorite haunts. He’s coming to make people laugh.
Rosenblum, 27, of Northridge, is debuting his first stand-up comedy tour, called “Condescending Hebrew,” at Plaza nightclub on North La Brea Avenue. In his show, he’ll get personal, touching upon his Judaism and his less-than-stellar teenage years.
“I do a lot of self-deprecating material,” he said. “I talk about how in high school I was not the most popular kid. I have a joke where I say [that] at the exact same time in high school I had a back brace, braces on my teeth and glasses on my face, and that girls didn’t want to date Harry Potter/RoboCop.”
Rosenblum was a senior in college when he stepped onto a stage to try comedy for the first time, in March 2011. Six years later, he’s performed at venues all over Washington, D.C., where he lives, as well as at Caroline’s in New York City and the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. He cohosts a bimonthly show called “Vent!” at Drafthouse Comedy in Washington, where local comedians get on stage and complain, and he’s opened for national touring comedians Brooks Wheelan, Gary Gulman and Russell Howard.
Rosenblum, who holds a full-time day job as press relations and community manager for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, has always been involved in Jewish life. After the Northridge earthquake in 1994, he and his family moved to Wisconsin, where his father worked for The Jewish Federation of Milwaukee. They came back to Los Angeles in 1999, when his father got a job at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
When Rosenblum went to college at UC Davis, he served on the board of Hillel and went on Birthright. Although he said his observance waxes and wanes, he doesn’t shy away from Jewish material on stage.
“A pretty heavy theme is being Jewish,” he said. “I talk about a few stories of working at my organization now, and how I grew up Jewish and fluctuate back and forth between practicing and not. I have a few silly jokes about Moses. When there are funny or comical things happening in my life, I try to write a joke about it.”
As for the name of the tour, Rosenblum said it’s based on the current political climate and rising anti-Semitism. “Someone close to me was called a ‘condescending Hebrew.’ I will tell the story in the act.”
Rosenblum was first inspired to do comedy when he was a kid and watched “Seinfeld” with his dad. “I watched every episode with him and really liked the portions of the show where Jerry was doing stand-up,” he said.
From there, Rosenblum started studying other stand-up comedians, becoming an avid fan of Woody Allen.
“Comedy was always something I wanted to do,” he said. “For many years, I scribbled in a notebook and never went on stage until I performed at a poetry, music and comedy open mic for the first time in college.”
Rosenblum tries to perform at least seven times every week.
“I am grateful for my work at the Religious Action Center because it has allowed me to work in the field I studied in,” he said. “I’m working for an organization that pursues values that align with me. They are progressive values and pursuing justice. I have a full-time job that is very meaningful to me and also to the world. And at night and on the weekends I get to pursue comedy, which I really enjoy. I’m very lucky for that.”
Eventually, Rosenblum wants to make comedy his full-time career. He also wants to write and act for television and movies. He already has been in Washington for six years, and he wants to make a move to an entertainment metropolis.
“I’d like to set my sights on a Los Angeles or New York move to make my dreams a reality,” he said.
On his five-day California tour, he also will perform in San Diego, San Francisco, Clovis and Sacramento. When he is in Los Angeles, Rosenblum will be inviting his family and friends to see him.
“I have a lot of people who come watch, and I feel like, after five years of doing standup on a regular basis, that I’m ready to take it on tour,” he said. “I have put in the work to hone my stand-up act, and it’s ready for people to come and watch so I can, hopefully, show them what I’ve got.”