A Partnership Built on Musical Comedy and Brisket

By Cindy Sher

Published December 25, 2008, issue of January 02, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Chicago — As part of its holiday show “Putting the Ha! In Hanukkah,” the musical comedy duo Good for the Jews is making its annual cross-country schlep — lampooning on stage such Jewish institutions as the bar mitzvah and JDate.

JEWISH JINGLES: Rob Tannenbaum, left, and David Fagin put the \'ha\' in Hanukkah.
JEWISH JINGLES: Rob Tannenbaum, left, and David Fagin put the \'ha\' in Hanukkah.

Good for the Jews teams up Rob Tannenbaum, the creator of the band “What I Like About Jew” and the VH1 Jewish pop culture special “So Jewtastic,” with guitarist David Fagin, the lead singer and guitarist of the indie pop band The Rosenbergs. Their Hanukkah tour includes stops in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle; it concludes on December 27 — the seventh night of Hanukkah — at Schuba’s tavern in Chicago.

Among the duo’s hits are “They Tried To Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat)” and the Yuletide-appropriate “(It’s Good To Be) a Jew on Christmas.” On the eve of the tour, Tannenbaum spoke with the Forward.

What inspired the song “(It’s Good To Be) a Jew on Christmas”?

There’s a sense of alienation at Christmas because you can’t miss Christmas. It’s not like Ramadan, which might pass you by and you don’t really know about it. On Christmas, you’re aware of the fact that you live not in a Judeo-Christian country, but in a Christian-Christian country. I also wanted Jews to have a holiday song of their own.

Why does the partnership work between you and David Fagin?

From the first time we met, we discovered that we had a lot in common in terms of our taste in music and the comedians that we think are funny … and food. When you’re on the road, you can’t discount the importance of liking to eat the same thing. We eat a lot of brisket. Towards the end of the show, he and I will look at one another and there is a look that passes that no one else recognizes and it means “Should we do a second encore or should we leave early before the barbecue place closes at 11 o’clock?”

What are the young Jews that come to your shows thirsting for?

There are a lot of people who might have been turned off by the religion — maybe by their experience in Hebrew school — who want to be cultural Jews and who don’t believe that the only way to be a Jew is to go to synagogue. What are some other things they can do to be Jewish? They can watch “The Daily Show,” they can go see a movie like “The Hebrew Hammer,” they can read a book like Shalom Auslander’s “Foreskin’s Lament.” … There also has to be life after Jackie Mason; there has to be something beyond “Take my wife, please.”

How did you celebrate Hanukkah as a kid?

We had dreidels — we just didn’t know how to play them. In fact, I remember sitting in our den and we would spin the dreidel and it would fall over and we would all just look at one another. We might end up playing Monopoly instead because at least we knew the rules.

For information on upcoming shows or to hear “(It’s Good To Be) a Jew on Christmas,” among other Good for the Jews originals, click here.






Find us on Facebook!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.