Arts Spotlight

Comedian Liberman Brings Clean Schtick to MJCCA

Liberman started "Comedy for Koby" 10 years ago to work with victims of terror attacks.

Avi Liberman will perform at the MJCCA on Oct. 14.

One of this generation’s great Jewish comics, Avi Liberman, will perform Oct. 14 at the Marcus JCC. His routine will flow “clean as a whistle” with stories about his personal experiences and days as a preschool teacher, and poking fun at Israeli names. What’s especially admirable is his annual charity tour benefiting victims of terror attacks for The Koby Mandell Foundation, an Israeli nonprofit. He’s often accompanied on this tour with his Jewish friend, comedian and musician Sarge, who also has made several recent appearances in Atlanta.

Liberman performs nationwide at comedy clubs and has appeared on CBS’s “Late Late Show” with Craig Ferguson, on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” and “Make Me Laugh,” as well as NBC’s “Friday Night!” Perhaps you will recognize him from TV commercials for Mercedes-Benz, Miller Lite and Starbucks.

Born in Israel, raised in Texas and educated in New York, he now lives in Los Angeles. And hey, ladies, Avi is an eligible bachelor!

Read on to learn about this new generation Jewish comic.

Liberman said he admires comedians Shelley Berman and Mel Brooks.

Jaffe: Will this be your first time in Atlanta?

Liberman: I performed at The Temple on Peachtree a few years ago as well as Chabad here. Also, Atlanta is familiar with comedian Sarge (Steve Pickman) with whom I toured and performed in Israel.

Jaffe: How did you get started as a child? How would you describe your style?

Liberman: Oh yes, I was the “class clown.” I was into stand-up comedy and some screenwriting. I identify as Modern Orthodox, and style-wise I stick to a clean routine because that affords more opportunity. Initially I shied away from Jewish material, but obviously that has changed. As I matured, I could no longer separate that out. You can’t run away from who you are. Now my routine is about my life experiences in a Jewish world: the holidays, Israeli names – things like that. I am always changing my routines, … seeing what goes over well in a performance, flushing it.

In another part of my younger life, I was a teaching assistant and draw some material from that. Often teachers get no respect.

Jaffe: You are behind a meaningful charity?

Liberman: “Comedy for Koby” is a biannual tour of Israel featuring some of America’s top stand-up comedians. The tour, first launched in 2008, benefits The Koby Mandell Foundation, an Israeli nonprofit organization that works with victims of terror attacks. I started it and continue to recruit fellow comedians (of various races and religions) for the tour.

Jaffe: Who are some of the Jewish comedians you admire?

Liberman: Shelley Berman (whom I met in Vegas) and Mel Brooks. I spent three mornings hanging out with Jackie Mason. The best was shooting a commercial with Don Rickles. He poked fun at me the whole day – how I dressed, my hair. You can imagine.

Jaffe: Share something funny that happened to you today that you might use as material.

Liberman: I went on a tour of a winery with Chasidic Jews from Brooklyn. I think that lends itself to a great “schtick.”

Jaffe: Leave us with a joke.

Liberman: I had a friend who went to Israel for 40 days in a row to find his soulmate. The good news is that he did find her! So, then he divorced his wife.

See Liberman in person at the Marcus JCC’s Morris & Rae Frank Theatre at 5 and 7 p.m. Oct. 14. Tickets are $20 to $28.

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