Jackie Hoffman in a promotional photo forA Chanukah Charol
(© Carol Rosegg)
Jackie Hoffman in a promotional photo for
A Chanukah Charol
(© Carol Rosegg)
The ability to laugh at oneself is an underrated virtue, but it's one Jackie Hoffman possesses wholeheartedly as she proves once again in A Chanukah Charol, her highly amusing and somewhat heartfelt new show at New World Stages (currently scheduled for additional performances on December 18 and January 2).

In this 50-minute variation on Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale, co-written and directed by her frequent collaborator Michael Schiarilli, Hoffman takes a decidedly humorous if surprisingly hard look at her self-described identity as a "self-loathing Jew" and her quest for the kind of nationwide fame that has so far eluded her.

Nowhere are these themes more hilariously explored than when she is visited by the Ghost of Chanukah Yet to Be and discovers her "future" as star of a particularly repugnant reality show called Ugly Jew. (The details are even worse than you might imagine).

In keeping with the Dickens tale, she is visited by a variety of spirits -- including the famed Yiddish actress Molly Picon -- and she also throws in a reference to "Tiny Tim," here reimagined as "Tiny Kim," the deformed Korean boy who delivers Pinkberry regularly to her apartment, and whom Hoffman refuses to tip until she learns the errors of her ways.

Audiences expecting the same kind of solo show that Hoffman has presented in past years at Joe's Pub are in for a surprise; there are no original songs, considerably less profanity, and far fewer scorching remarks than usual. That said, one could hardly term the show "family-friendly."

Moreover, there are still plenty of laughs. Indeed, she gets in a handful of sharp digs at young children, elderly synagogue-goers, the enduring popularity of Mamma Mia!, Shelley Winters' love life, and her mother's penchant for overfeeding her family. And, believe it or not, you will never look at a bottle of Coke Zero the same way again!