By Kevin Coughlin
You knew going in, from the Jewmongous title, that Saturday’s Sean Altman concert at the Bickford Theatre in Morris Township would not be your standard holiday show.
Add Carla Ulbrich’s musical musings on medical specialists, her husband’s ex-girlfriends, and an Anglo Saxon expletive that she wished she had copyrighted, and well, there was absolutely no mistaking this for last week’s golden anniversary screening of A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Morristown and Township Library.
That being said, there were plenty of laughs… even if some were of the nervous variety.
With tuneful precision, Altman skewered prejudices pertaining to his ethnicity. He was ably accompanied by singer/percussionist Michael Hunter, whose Scottish/Korean ancestry proved a bit more challenging to satirize.
Altman has migrated from Rockapella (from TV’s Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego) to a Jewish hipster comedy scene that includes Jon Stewart, Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman.
He opened on Saturday with Taller Than Jesus, a song that takes John Lennon’s infamous “the Beatles are bigger than Jesus” comment to new heights of absurdity– specifically, Altman’s 6-foot-3 height.
Other original numbers included an Irish drinking anthem to Blood Libel, Christian Baby Blood, and Blow, Murray, Blow!, a tribute to a champion Yom Kippur shofar-blower. He also cooked up a jaunty Passover tune, They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat).
Then there was the sweet soul ballad to a lost body part. We don’t want to give away too much–no pun intended– but (spoiler alert!) mohels may not find this song as amusing as the audience did.
Ulbrich is more of an Equal Opportunity satirist– this transplanted South Carolinian does not confine her broadsides to any one tribe.
Her new CD, Totally Average Woman, contains little gems about high school biology dissections, getting fired for not smoking, and the monthly visitor dreaded by women the world over.
This show was presented by the Sanctuary concert series, which usually hosts its concerts at the Presbyterian Church in Chatham.
That venue happened to be booked for… Christmas-related stuff.
Too bad. It would have been interesting to see Altman in his Papal miter singing Blame the Jews beneath a crucifix, surrounded by wreaths and Christmas lights.
Talk about your holiday spectaculars!
The Sanctuary series returns to Chatham on Jan. 2, 2015, at 8 pm for a reunion of The Les Paul Trio: Lou Pallo, Nicki Parrott and Frank Vignola. Tickets: $25.