Momedy Comedy Part Three
brings us up to date

Third installment of lecture series looks at contemporary Jewish comediennes

By Byron Toben

Originally published October 10, 2018
Updated July 27, 2022

Thanks to all our viewers on their compliments for my reviews of Parts One and Two of Irene Lillienheim Angelico’s compilation of Jewish women comediennes over the last century until today. If you missed them, you can visit Part One (the pioneers) and Part Two (until about 2000).

There has been an explosion of talent of late. Traditional use of satire and irony continues, but self-deprecation has lessened in this era of strong, often activist, women. The influence of Seinfeld has led to more use of observational humour.

Traditional use of satire and irony continues, but self-deprecation has lessened in this era of strong, often activist, women.

As before, the brief inserts below to give a taste of the performers are not as full as Ms. Angelico’s longer selections.

Jackie Hoffman born 1960 in Queens, NY.
Served eight years with Chicago’s Second City, winning Joseph Jefferson award there. Starred in TV anthology Feud and Broadway shows such as Hairspray.

Wendy Liebman born 1961 in Manhasset, NY.
This brainy lass did psychology research at Harvard and ventured into stand-up in Boston, leading to an award as female stand up comic of the year.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus born 1961 in NYC.
Grew up in Washington, DC. Studied drama at North-Western University but joined Second City as well as Practical Theatre Company before being drafted by Saturday Night Live in NYC. She starred as Elaine in Seinfeld and later, as vice-president Selena Meyer in Veep, has won eleven Emmy awards and campaigned for the environment and universal health care.

Elvira Kurt born 1961 in Toronto.
She became yet another Second City alumna. This “kitten with a wit” has parlayed her openly gay orientation into acts highlighting that, coining the term “fellagirly”.

Sarah Jessica Parker born 1965 in Nelsonville, Ohio.
Cast at age 14 as lead in musical Annie, she later became most famous as Carrie Bradshaw in the TV hit Sex and the City. Won many awards, has a multi million dollar endorsement deal with the GAP.

Debra Messing born 1968 in Brooklyn.
An actor on screen and stage, she is best known for her role in the TV hit Will and Grace.

Sarah Silverman born 1970 in Bedford, New Hampshire.
Attended school at NYU and visited comedy clubs culminating in a stint on Saturday Night Live. Eventually had a 3-year Sarah Silverman TV show and wrote an autobiography.

Chelsea Handler born 1975 in Livingston, New Jersey.
Moving to California at 19, she entered comedy and eventually hosted her own widely viewed show. This led to five best selling books, many awards and plaudits. Appeared in a one-woman show in Montreal at Theatre St-Denis recently.

Jess Salomon born sometime late 1970s, somewhere in Canada.
Became a lawyer and worked with the World Criminal Court in The Hague. Returned to Montreal, appeared at Just for Laughs and switched to comedy. Married a Palestinian woman co-comedian and both have moved to New York.

Amy Schumer born 1981 in Manhattan, NY.
Gradually worked her way up to many bits on Comedy Central. Started doing hosting, hit it big with her own series, Inside Amy Schumer.

Iliza Schlesinger born 1983 in Manhattan.
Raised in Dallas, Texas. In 2008, she was the first woman and youngest person to win Last Comic Standing. Hosted several show, currently the late night Truth and Iliza.

Renny Grinshpan born 1986 in Toronto.
This model and comic has moved to Tel Aviv where her YouTubes are wildly popular, especially on learning Hebrew with an English accent. Sister Eden also has a cooking show on TV.

Closing thoughts

As in any listings, there are inevitable opinions as to omitted names. Ms. Angelico has done superlative work in compiling the 31 names.

Future compilations might add Bea Arthur, born 1922 in NYC, died aged 86 in 2008, most famous for Golden Girls and Mayim Bialik, born 1975 in San Diego, most famous for Big Bang Theory.

Also, let’s hear it for the many talented funny schicksas who some think are Jewish, but aren’t (Imogene Coca, Gracie Allen, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler) or are not Jewish, but share certain attributes in their performances (Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Carole Burnett, Lily Tomlin)

Momedy Comedy was sponsored by the Cummings Centre, best known for its conditioning classes, but also its interesting cultural events.
Visit for programs and classes.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

Feature image: Julia Louis-Dreyfus with former Vice President Joe Biden – Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Read also: Momedy Comedy Part One opens with a bang
and Momedy Comedy Part Two keeps up the pace

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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