September 22, 2018

Comedians Stand Up for Judaism

For years before they met, Los Angeles-based stand-up comedians Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher traveled alone on the road.

Today, having now been married for three years, and as parents to a newborn daughter, the couple are able to work together and travel wherever they want.

As individuals, both achieved acclaim on stage and on major late-night television shows. Together, their recent gig in Austin, Texas, was filmed and turned into their new Netflix special, “The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special.” In it, Leggero and Kasher perform two separate sets, then go onstage to roast other couples in the audience.

“We started thinking we could travel together just doing our stand-up,” said Kasher, 38, in a phone interview with the Journal. “We talk about our marriage on stage and do live relationship counseling with couples [in the audience].”

Leggero, 44, was heavily pregnant while filming the special. Onstage, she wore a short, glittery dress with a massive fur coat, which emphasized her belly.

“I was Catholic my whole life, but obviously not practicing, because I’m also intelligent.” — Natasha Leggero

“Having a baby and being pregnant is definitely a new experience,” Leggero said. “It’s something to write jokes about, and it’s something new that’s happening to you. It’s kind of miserable, which for me is always the best for comedy. When you’re falling in love or getting married, or having a TV show, those things feel good but sometimes they’re not the best thing for comedy.”

Kasher joked, “Natasha likes to perform while miserable because her audiences are also miserable while she performs.”

At one point in the show Leggero joked, “I am pregnant. Please, hold your applause. I’m still in the abortion zone.”

In his act, Kasher joked that people were trying to persuade him that being a parent was the greatest thing in the world. “It feels like they’re trying to convince me to eat sh–,” he said.

Kasher and Leggero dated for three years before marrying. During that time, Leggero took conversion classes with Conservative Rabbi Neal Weinberg at Judaism By Choice in Pico-Robertson. The couple attended the course’s 19, four-hour-long classes, where they learned about Shabbat, the prayers and wedding customs.

“The rabbi makes these classes available every single night except for Friday,” said Leggero. “It’s intensive. There’s not even a bathroom break.”

“The rabbi comes into the bathroom, stands behind you as you urinate,” Kasher quipped, “and sings ‘Adon Olam,’ because there’s no rest for the wicked.”

The two were married in their backyard in Los Angeles in 2015. They hold Shabbat dinners every Friday night.

“I was Catholic my whole life, but obviously not practicing because I’m also intelligent,” Leggero said. “The Shabbat practice is really the jewel of Judaism. If I could just do that, and also share it with my child, I’d be really happy.”

Kasher, who has a Chasidic father and whose brother is David Kasher, the newly appointed associate rabbi at IKAR, said, “As a typical convert, Natasha is very evangelical about us keeping Shabbat. Every Friday, she is the one who says we have to light candles, we have to do Shabbat. It definitely is a big part of our lives.”

For now, Friday nights are spent at home, as Kasher and Leggero raise their baby. But they hope to be able to go on the road together again. “I know I’m not doing another special while pregnant,” Leggero said. “I’d like to wait for our darling child to be 4 or 5 so she can open for us.”

“The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special” is currently streaming on Netflix.