Synagogue Slut

An intriguing twist on the old formula for Jewish humour, Emily Rose's act attempts to make the synagogue, and not the archetypal comedy character that frequents it, the star of the show. While a wander through the potential foibles of Jewish worship is an interesting idea, however, Synagogue Slut needs considerable work before it can really be recommended to a general audience.

Indeed, that Rose clearly has potential as a comic is what makes her show so frustrating to watch. With her offbeat and self-deprecating humour, she's an affable host. She frequently jumps between an improvised form of stand-up and cabaret numbers at the piano, meaning that if one style isn't to your taste, a change of pace is sure to trundle along eventually.

I use the word 'trundle' deliberately. For while a few of Synagogue Slut's jokes hit the spot, many do not. Rose's whimsical disorganisation was endearing up to a point, but she often got caught rambling for too long about some arcane aspect of the Sabbath (at least for non-Jews), a recurring theme that was neither informative nor entertaining. Halfway through one especially long rant she caught herself and breezily remarked that 'this is not funny at all, but I'm having fun!' In a more disciplined set, an aside like that might have been perfect. In the event the room remained abjectly quiet.

Rose struck upon the idea of reviewing synagogues through writing a blog for an online newspaper, and she's obviously accumulated a lot of compelling tales, especially performing to an audience that probably knows next to nothing about the finer points of the kiddush (Sabbath meal). Rather than sharpening these stories, however, Rose makes the dangerous decision of encouraging the audience to ask her questions about her experiences. This forced her to think of relevant anecdotes off-hand, a task with which she didn’t meet much success.

By stressing the importance of interaction with the crowd, Rose made herself vulnerable to deliberate spitefulness. One uncharitable man asked if she could 'turn the volume down' after she'd finished a song. Of course, random nastiness of this kind cannot be reckoned with, but the risk of encountering it could have been reduced by sticking to pre-prepared gags.

No comedian deserves to be heckled, especially one with Rose's promise. During the brief moments when her show coalesced, she proved herself to be a playful comedian. It's a shame that the rest of her hour was too disjointed to be anything but fleetingly enjoyable.

Reviews by Andrea Valentino

Performances

The Blurb

Between bitching about synagogues and entertaining you with witty stories and songs, the 'likeable and out of the ordinary' (Scotsman) Emily proves to be 'utterly adorable from start to finish...4/5'(ThreeWeeks). Special less-kosher shabbat performances on Fridays.