Don’t ‘knock’ Seth Rogen, the new overweight Canadian Jewish boy leading man


Seth Rogen feigned surprise when a CBS host joked that he did not see the
actor in a Hollywood manual about leading men.

“You didn't see 'overweight Canadian Jewish boy' in there?” the actor
replied.

Critics say Rogen is spot-on as the leading man of Judd Apatow's “Knocked
Up,” a slacker-zhlub with a “Jewfro” who impregnates a gorgeous, ambitious
journalist (Katherine Heigl from “Grey's Anatomy”) during a drunken
one-night stand. Thereafter, the slacker struggles to become a mensch —
amid plenty of filthy jokes and kvetching. When Heigl informs him that they
did, indeed, have sex that drunken night (he had been too intoxicated to
remember), his response is a despondent “oy.”

Like Apatow's 2005 hit, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” is a
raunchfest with a heart – in large part due to Rogen's “crudeness mixed with
sweetness,” Time said. Rogen's Jewish persona doesn't hurt either: “There is
a classic clash in film comedy between Jewish guys and non-Jewish women
trying to figure each other out,” Apatow said at a press event. “Whether
it's 'When Harry Met Sally' or 'Annie Hall,' it's always funny to see the
Jews trying to make women happy, and failing.”

Rogen insists he's playing a protagonist who is much like himself, which has
been his preference as an actor. His “Knocked Up” character, Ben Stone, is
also a Jew from Vancouver who loves to imbibe and to watch the naked scenes
from sex-romps such as “Porky's.” (He and his Jewish roommates share an
“Animal House”-style pad where the stoner conversations range from chicks to
Jewish movies). But while Rogen professes to be a slacker — and projects a
laid-back demeanor — his achievements suggest he is anything but.

After entertaining classmates at his Jewish day school and camps for Habonim
Dror, the Labor Zionist youth movement, Rogen took a stand-up comedy
workshop at age 12, he told the Journal in 2001. He made his professional
debut at 13 with jokes about his bar mitzvah, his grandparents and the
Israeli Habonim counselors who allegedly made him march around while toting
rocks.

At 16, after his second TV audition ever, he landed a role on Apatow's
sitcom, “Freaks and Geeks.” To shoot the show, Rogen moved with his family
to Los Angeles, where his father, Mark, became the assistant director for
the local branch of the Workmen's Circle, a Yiddish cultural organization.
Seth learned about the Mamaloshen in order to emcee fundraisers for the
group.

Three years later, Apatow reportedly hoped to cast Rogen as the star of his
Fox college sitcom, “Undeclared,” but network executives allegedly nixed
that idea because, they said, the actor didn't look like a leading man.
Instead, Apatow gave Rogen a small role in the series as well as a seat in
the writer's room; Rogen was stunned because he knew zilch about sitcom
writing. The closest he had ever come to college life was a 1998 Habonim
trip to Israel, which was “kind of like living in a dorm,” he said.

Rogen likened that sitcom experience to taking a college class with an
extremely tough professor.

“Judd is a good friend, but he's extremely, brutally honest,” Rogen said at
the time. “He'll say, 'this sucks, it's not funny, rewrite it.'”

All that rewriting paid off when Rogen subsequently won Emmy nominations,
writing stints on programs such as “Da Ali G Show” and roles in Apatow
movies such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

“Virgin” made a star out of another Apatow protege, Steve Carell — and
“Knocked Up” could well do the same for Rogen, critics say. The 25-year-old
is filming his next starring vehicle, the stoner thriller-comedy “The
Pineapple Express.” And in August, Sony will release “Superbad,” the
semi-autobiographical teen flick Rogen penned at 14 with his current writing
partner, Evan Goldberg (the two boys had met — where else? — at a bar
mitzvah).

Rogen has another couple movies in the works.

“If things go well for him at the box office, Los Angeles restaurants may
have to deal with an infestation of waiters who are dumpy Canadians with
Jewfros,” Time said.

Knocked Up opens today in Los Angeles.
 

Hair Club for Jews


Hi. My name is Carin and I have a Jewfro.

Heeb hair. A Moses mop. A latke lid. I’m down with my fun
girl curls, but I can’t say the same for the men I meet. My big hair is the Mason-Dixon
Line of my L.A. dating life. Some men love the untamed, wild, bed-head look of
my natural waves. But many men prefer I play it straight.

Take lawyer dude Rich, who I picked up at The Arsenal on Pico
Boulevard on a Saturday night. I was wearing my jeans low, my heels high and
my hair straight. Rich grabbed my digits and we went out on two successful
straight-haired sit-down dinner dates. For our third date, he suggested Cabo
Cantina, margaritas with salt and the Sunday night football game. Since we
decided to skip formalities, I decided to skip the blow dry. Poor play call on
my part. I threw open my door and surprised Rich with my long, flowing,
sandy-blond curls. He gasped, grimaced, then covered his eyes.

“What happened to your hair?”

Apparently Jewish men like blow dries. And not just Rich.

One date asked me, “What’s with the curls?”

Another asked if I wanted to finish getting ready.

A third offered me the scrunchie some JDate left on his
stick shift. Great, I have bad hair and you’re seeing other women. I’d cry but
the moisture might make my hair frizz up.

I’m not alone in this hair crisis. Thousands of Jewish women
just like me face similarly challenging locks. I’m talking big, puffy,
out-of-control, coiled bird’s nest curls. We’re asked to sit behind the
mechitzah because our big hair blocks the men’s view of the bimah. Coveting J.
Crew catalog-straight hair, we brush and comb and mousse and spray. We steam
and set and wrap and treat. But we still show up to parties looking like the
Bride of “Welcome Back, Kotter.” That’s why I started the Hair Club for Jews.
Where I’m not just the hair club president, I’m also a member.

My teenage years were a blur of bad hair. I spent high
school as a frizzy triangle head with flip-up/flip-down bangs. Moviegoers
behind me switched seats and the yearbook photog took my pic with a panoramic
lens. When I hit college, I straightened my mane with a smokin’ hot flattening
iron. I blew my book money on hair spray and scorched my forehead twice, but
hey, I love the smell of burnt hair in the morning. Now, with heightened
self-confidence and a bathroom overstuffed with hair products, this Jewish babe
swings both ways.

But which do I do on a first date? One wrong tress can send
a fine man running. Do I rip off the Band-Aid and open with big curls? Should I
ease my man into the fro? Is straight sexier? Do curls have more fun? And
what’s the deal with the babushka? Curly. Straight. Curly. Straight. No wonder
Jewish women give up and wear a sheitel.

Perhaps this hair dilemma has deeper roots. Talmudic
scholars might argue that by wearing my hair curly, I am broadcasting my Jewish
pride to the single men of the 310. The great Rabbi Abraham Paul Mitchell might
argue that by straightening my hair, I am denying my Jewish heritage. I am
turning my back on a hairstyle passed down by The Matriarchs. I say anyone who
spends 10 minutes with me knows I’m a Member of the Tribe — no matter how I
wear my hair. I also say men tend to spend more than 10 minutes with me when I
wear my hair in pigtails.

Speaking of men, Rich apologized as we waited for our table.

“The curls aren’t that bad, C, I guess I could get used to
them. I just like your hair better straight ’cause I can run my fingers through
it.”

Then he gently brushed the hair out of my face, kissed my
forehead and all was forgiven — until he broke down and offered me the Yankees
hat off his head halfway through our date. But who could fit his tiny
peanut-head cap over my gargantuan hair? Things didn’t really work out between
Rich and me. And not just because he’s a Yankees fan.

When it comes to my guy, I need a man who’s in it for the
long haul, who’s up for any hair catastrophe. If a guy’s not there for me on a
bad hair day, he won’t be there for me on a bad work day. He won’t be there for
me when I spill red wine on my wedding dress, when I lose my keys, when I burn
dinner, when the kids get the flu, when I’m 75, less flexible and my hearing
aid whistles. I need a man who’s in it for richer or poorer, for curly or for
straight, who can laugh with me through a hair disaster and any disaster.

As president of the Hair Club for Jews, I urge other Jewish
women to stand up for their locks. If you embrace your big hair, you can get
ready for a date in five minutes, you can get your hair wet at the beach, you
can live in a humid climate. And, as far my dates go, I’m taking a “love me —
love my hair” attitude. Single Jewish men shouldn’t be so quick to judge my
Jewfro, ’cause I know they carefully position their kippot to hide their bald
spots. Â


Carin Davis, a freelance writer, can be reached at sports@jewishjournal.com.