PUTNEY—Sean Altman makes his second appearance at Next Stage in as many weeks, this time with his bawdy and rowdy comedy revue, Jewmongous!, on Friday, Dec. 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Altman’s first CD, Taller Than Jesus, was a bit of a departure from the work he was best known for as the founder and leader of Rockapella, the house a cappella band for the beloved public TV show, Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego.
But with cuts like his Passover song, “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat),” his dysfunctional Bar Mitzvah anthem, “Today I’m A Man,” and his lament over mixed marriage, “Just Too Jew for You,” Altman’s CD received lots of critical acclaim and he sold out shows all over the U.S.
Now Altman is touring in support of his second CD — another collection of original songs called The Least Jewy Jew in Jewville.
As he explained to The Commons in 2014, “I write these songs to make myself laugh and to explore — from my own ignorant secular perspective — the mystifying customs and rituals of my tribe. The tone is irreverent, even occasionally risqué, but always affectionate.”
In keeping with the “we kid because we love” theme of Jewmongous!, Altman’s new CD features new songs about legendary Israeli military hero Moshe Dayan (“Tough MotherF---ker (With An Eye Patch)”), circumcision (“Phantom Foreskin”), and anti-semitism (“Blame the Jews”), among other catchy tunes.
Altman loves to play with the stereotypes people have about Jews, and admits that his comedy style is more Lenny Bruce than Alan Sherman. But he also wants to put a little swagger into being Jewish in America.
“I prefer the current in-your-face-proud-Jew comedy to the poor-me-wimpy-shnook Jewish comedy of my parents’ generation,” he told The Commons back in 2014.
“I don’t think there’s anything inherent in Judaism that breeds humor, but surely the oppression that we’ve suffered for thousands of years has engendered humor as a survival mechanism,” he added. “When your village is being burnt to the ground, your possessions are stolen by the government you trusted, and your sister is getting molested (or worse) by Cossacks, music and humor and family are what enable you to survive.”
After previous holiday shows at the Hooker-Dunham Theater in Brattleboro, Dec. 23 marks the first time Jewmongous! has played in Putney.
Southern Vermont is usually a regular stop for Altman this time of year because of his longtime friend and collaborator, Billy Straus, who produced several of Rockapella’s allbums and one of Altman’s solo recordings.
Straus now lives in Putney, is an EMT, and is one of the founders of Next Stage.