“I think me and @JamesSmithComic are about to desecrate temple @SixthandI in downtown DC. If you’re in the shtetl come by right now,” Jewish comedian Jeff Ross tweeted before making his appearance at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Sunday.
While Sixth & I remains intact, the duo did manage to provide the audience with plenty of laughs and plenty of insults. Ross is well known for his insult comedy, which he unleashes during his frequent appearances on Comedy Central celebrity roasts, most recently turning his attention to James Franco. His roasting abilities have earned him the pseudonym Roastmaster General and his roasting of audience members (“speed roasting” as he called it) during his stand-ups has become the norm.
Despite being in a synagogue, an environment that Ross said made his entire set funnier, he didn’t hold back. After Australian comic James Smith opened the performance, Ross came on stage, both delighted and dismayed at the fact he was about to perform his comedy in a synagogue. While much of Ross’ set was too raunchy to highlight, he did manage to tastefully make fun of his Jewish heritage, Jewish culture and stereotypes.
“The last time I was in a temple” was during my bar mitzvah, he said. “I made more money then” than I do now, he added.
“I’m Jewish and proud,” but I’m not religious, he continued. I only “go to temple twice a year. Christmas and Easter.” This, and the entire set for that matter, was met with resounding laughter by the audience, which cheered when Ross asked how many people in the crowd were nonreligious.
He then provided a brief history of Sixth & I. “In 1865, Jews bought [the temple] for 15 percent off,” he said. His thoughts on the pope? “Jews don’t have a pope. We have Steven Spielberg.”
Ross continued his set with jokes about hot yoga, Chris Brown (who was recently arrested in D.C.) and deceased celebrities, particularly rapper Tupac Shakur, whose name Ross said sounded like a Jewish holiday.
After some musical improvisation comedy played by Ross on the guitar, he invited audience members to line up on stage for some old-fashioned skewering. Smith came back on as well to provide extra insults.
Whether it was their clothes, appearance, occupation or name, Ross was insult-ready for the volunteers. One of the first in line said her name was Odelia, to which Ross responded, “How about a-kosher-delia?”
After managing to come up with original jokes about each volunteer, Ross ended the night with another improvised song/poem, accompanied by an audience member who happened to play the piano.
Afterwards, he and Smith stayed around to talk and take photos with audience members.
Ross produces and stars in The Burn with Jeff Ross, which has aired for two seasons on Comedy Central. Episodes are available online on various VOD services. For more information on Ross’ tour dates/locations, go to roastmastergeneral.com.