Billed by the Marcus JCC as an “adult” comedian, it took the audience some time to adjust to what they were experiencing. A throwback to the raunchy older Jewish comedians such as Buddy Hackett and Shecky Greene (whom Sarge said he just spoke to for a new joke), Sarge was an equal opportunity offender. Holding back no “F” words, it could have been Vegas or Grossinger’s, but he won over Dunwoody. Sarge performed two shows, at 5 and 7 p.m., on the Morris & Rae Frank Theatre stage April 7.
Sarge was all about his aging Florida parents, bathroom humor, balancing his ethnicity and especially the topic of why Jewish holidays are so morose and unpleasant. “At Pesach time, goyim are painting eggs, eating chocolate bunnies and confessing to a pedophile in a booth, while we are talking about plagues with vermin and eating ceiling tile [matzah].” Although he said he would not talk about politics, he listed Mike Pence as one of the plagues.
A musical prodigy as a child, Steve Pickman was born to an Orthodox Jewish woman and a black man in 1961. Adopted by a white Jewish couple from Long Island, he trudged through years of addiction. After hitting rock bottom, he got sober and rose through the competitive world of stand up comedy. Today he is a husband, father and mentor to thousands as he volunteers with recovery facilities, including Jewish ones. To much applause he announced that he had just lost 104 pounds by going to the Duke University program and learning to “not let high caloric food speak to me. … Rugalach and Rice Krispies treats beckon me; pears do not.”
His most topical pun was that his grandfather paid Julliard $500,000 so he could be admitted on the non-existent badminton team there. He actually did attend Julliard in New York, as well as Emory University.
A fan, Ron Lipsitz, said, “Sarge is reminiscent of Don Rickles with rapid-fire Yiddish-flavored verbal bullets, straightforward ‘in-your-face.’ Occasionally insulting and off-color, Sarge is nevertheless topical, consistently funny, and his carefully prepared presentation reflects a keen intellect with a spot-on understanding of human nature. His skill on the piano is a bonus.”
Laughing from the second row, Lynne Greenfield said, “My husband Tom and I were both blown away by his incredible musical ability. He is a piano genius! The one-man show was hilarious from beginning to end.”
Here are some of his stories and zingers (that we can print):
“I love that the Atlanta Jewish Times is here watching the show. The earlier show was covered by the Muslim Sentinel, so it was all totally different.”
“Both my black and Jewish relatives were slaves on both sides, so you can’t do anything more to me.”
“My black side shoplifts, but my Jewish side dictates only wholesale.”
“Don’t worry about political correctness with blackface. Say you saw me perform tonight in beige face.”
“I was so bad at math during school that I thought trigonometry was undercooked pork.”
“I was impressed with security in Israel. I have just returned from six shows there. They assigned me Jewish Navy Seals; but in the water they only go in up to their knees with Jewish splashing. I love landing in Tel Aviv and seeing the combination of a yamulkie, tallis and a bazooka!”
“I urged my parents, 91 and 85, to move to Florida since they were always falling. I felt there were more seniors here already falling to make a softer cushion on the curbs, etc.”
“My mother gets things confused. She wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because of the debacle with ‘Ben Gazzara’ [the old actor] versus Benghazi.”
“As a child I went to fat camp, bath camp, … and played with Etch-a-Sketch, Lite-Brite and an Easy Bake Oven with a lightbulb so I could never eat the food.”
“Please tell the Atlanta Jewish Times readers that I played ‘Hatikvah,’ ‘Adon Olom,’ ‘Dayenu,’ ‘I Had a Little Dreidel,’ so you don’t bury my story in the back with the deli ads and obits.”
He did indeed play those and more fantastic tunes ranging from “Danny Boy” to “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“Only a backwoods Jewish audience from Dunwoody would request ‘Danny Boy.’ This is so far out in the suburbs we might have just played in Tennessee.”
Sarge’s book is a must and an easy read. “Black Boychik: The Hilarious, True Story of a Fat, Mixed-Race Jew Crack Addict who Somehow Becomes a Comedian. Go Figure.” Available on Amazon.