Jackie Hoffman, Cory Kahaney, Jessica Kirson, Cathy Ladmanin The J.A.P. Show
(© Jaisen Crockett)
Jackie Hoffman, Cory Kahaney, Jessica Kirson, Cathy Ladman
in The J.A.P. Show
(© Jaisen Crockett)
Many Jews (this writer included) tend to need a really good reason to go to synagogue in the 11-and-a-half months between Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah -- like a relative's Bar Mitzvah or a really good rummage sale. Now, we've found a third one: the often hilarious The J.A.P. Show ensconced inside The Actors' Temple.

Don't worry: There's no tsuris here, just a chance to laugh your tuchas off, thanks to funny ladies Cory Kahaney (who conceived the show), Jessica Kirson, Cathy Ladman, and Jackie Hoffman, all of whom know how to hit the funny bone. Hard.

Gentile alert: While The Jewish Princesses of Comedy, as they've billed themselves, may use a Yiddish word here and there, the show is the theatrical equivalent of Levy's Rye bread. Even the goyim in the audience will be guffawing often, since the ladies tackle not just the stalwarts of so-called Jewish humor -- such as a Jewish woman's supposedly low sex drive -- but a lot of universal topics, including marriage, therapy, and weight issues. Oh, and let's not forget Hitler and Eva Braun.

The four ladies, each singular talents, have their own styles of stand-up, and there's a good possibility that one performer's set might tickle your funny bone more than the others. Ladman and Kahaney, who respectively open and close the show, are the more low-key of the quartet, but have bulls-eye delivery with their quips. Kirson is loud, assertive, slightly self-deprecating, and bears a self-described similarity to Rosie O'Donnell. She's also utterly hysterical and a truly gifted physical performer.

Hoffman, probably the best-known of the batch due to her theater work (Hairspray, Regrets Only), is perhaps a bit out of place here with her trademark anger and bitterness. For example, her stinging musical monologue about "a woman from the Upper West Side" was perfectly suited to her recent Joe's Pub show Jackie With a Z, but it proves to be an awkward starting point for her set. Still, she scores some huge laughs, specifically with bits about Yiddish Berlitz tapes and Orthodox singles mixers re-imagined in the mode of a gay circuit party.

Adding a slight dose of theatricality to these generally comedy club-like proceedings, the quartet pay homage -- through both speeches and video -- to a quintet of their comic ancestors: Belle Barth, Jean Carroll, Totie Fields, Betty Walker, and Pearl Williams. Some of those women may be unknown to even the savviest audience member, such as Williams, who gained fame making dirty party records, but these brief history lessons go down quickly and easily. There's also a quick end-of-show montage saluting Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Rita Rudner, and other contemporary comediennes that's a nice touch.

In the show's opening moments, Kirson asks: "Why do they make fun of Jewish women so much?" "Because we they know we can take it," answers Landman. "Yeah, and we can dish it out too," adds Kahaney. As The J.A.P. Show proves, they absolutely can!