At one point in “SHIKSAPPEAL: Getting the Chosen to Choose Me,” a one-woman show that recently appeared at the New York Fringe Festival, Catholic comedienne Katherine Williams is confronted by a Jewish friend over her identity as self-appointed shiksa: “You do know that’s derogatory, right?” Williams shrugs it off without missing a beat. “It just means that you’re a Gentile girl some Jewish guys find attractive.”
Indeed, there’s little that’s derogative about the entire production, a light-hearted look at the life of a goyish gal who can’t help but fall for nice Jewish boys. Williams, the show’s writer, performer, and titular shiksa, cracks wise about her problem while playing a host of characters, including herself: “I tried to find the nice Catholic boy I was supposed to, but for every Tony, Chad, or Alex I dated, there were three Bens, Joshs, or Seths who I was immediately drawn to.” Engaging and energetic, Williams is eager to dish on her love life. “Katherine’s been on top of more Jews than a yarmulke,” quips one character. Says another friend, “Katherine Williams likes Jews so much she gets laid right to left.”
Yet despite taking on potentially fertile topics for a farce of Jewish jokes and single-girl antics in New York City, “Shiksappeal” manages to resist the low-hanging grapes of stereotype and tell a story with heart and honesty.
Onstage, Williams shows a strong stand-up sensibility, with the requisite mix of bravado and bare honesty. She raises eyebrows and delivers lines with a sharp and confident kind of charm. In spotlit stand-up asides, she takes a page out of Sarah Silverman’s playbook and works and warps her “good Catholic girl” persona to solid comedic effect. Even when her humor leans towards the Borscht-belt-y, she’s ready with a defense: “I can say that. I have Jewish hair.”
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