Stand Up Comedian
How did you come to do what you do?
After college, I was working for an accounting firm and started doing comedy at night and wanted to make it more legitimate. I didn’t want it to just be a hobby, so I kept going to different open mic shows and amateur nights. For the most part, I was not getting paid but stuck with it. After 18-19 months, I quit the accounting firm and got other jobs that provided me more flexibility and allowed me to have some money – waiter/substitute teacher/doorman at a bar or restaurant (low profile jobs that didn’t pay much but gave me the time to do the shows)
How does Judaism influence your comedy style?
I take certain facts regarding Judaism and certain knowledge of Judaism and infuse them into the show. I have some jokes about being Jewish and am comfortable being talked about as a Jew. But I never make it the butt of the joke and never belittle Judaism or insult it. As an example, I’ve told a story about a friend who was trying to tell me about a documentary she watched, about Hitler and his…shenanigans, because she couldn’t think of the word atrocities. I talk about being Jewish and the way I was raised and how I always wanted Christmas. My mother was set against celebrating anything Christmas-oriented in case her mother would come for a surprise visit, which was ridiculous because she couldn’t drive.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday or tradition?
Passover was always fun – the Seder at the house growing up. Having the meal and going through the rituals of the Seder. I enjoyed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur from the perspective of going to Temple and seeing how seriously everyone took it and all the tradition in the High Holidays, but Pesach is my favorite.
Favorite food that you associate with Judaism?
Matzah Balls. There are other things people make with matzah that I also enjoy, like matzah brei.
Earliest memory of being Jewish?
When I was 5 and all the Jewish kids would stay after kindergarten and learn about being Jewish for the Holidays. It was how I first understood that I was Jewish and different and had this uniqueness about me.
How do you incorporate Judaism into your daily life?
I see myself as such a Jewish person and it’s a part of my identity, but I don’t celebrate Shabbat or eat kosher. It’s just who I am. I try to uphold the traditions I can, but I’m not very observant.
What’s the most surprising thing about life on tour, or that a fan has done?
I drove home from a show an hour and a half away. I was staying at my mom’s on NYE and two young women followed me the whole way home, supposedly because one of my shoes fell off the top of my car so they brought the shoe back. I asked why they didn’t just flash the brights to make me stop and they actually said they didn’t want to frighten me. This, to them, was the less creepy option. I’m always surprised that there are people who wait a long time, sometimes hours, after the show to meet me and to me that’s really beyond what I think I deserve. I’m always flattered by that.
Gary Gulman’s Netflix special, “It’s About Time”, is out now, and laugh-out- loud funny. We also highly recommend checking when he’s coming to a town near you.
Culinary Blogger and Author
How did you start doing what you're doing?
I relocated from NYC to Austin, TX in 2009 and did what everyone does when moving to a new city: started a job, made new friends, and even went two-stepping. But, while I found I was liking my new surroundings, I was not overly challenged professionally. When I was bored at work, I started reading food blogs and decided to start my own. My original idea was for a dessert blog, but my brother redirected me to concentrate on Jewish foods. I launched near the end of 2010, around Hanukkah time, with a twist on latkes (sweet potato latkes and applesauce). The recipe received great feedback and I built on the initial momentum by entering a small business competition, adding freelance work, and eventually publishing a cookbook. The website ModernTribe did not come until later, when the existing site became available for sale and my brother and I decided to purchase it. That move has allowed us to learn about eCommerce and internet sales.
What's your favorite Jewish holiday or tradition?
I love Pesach and the Seder. I love to host, and this year had 15 guests at the Seder. Really, anyone who wants to come can come, whether Jewish or not. I love sharing and teaching about my religion and traditions. For Pesach cooking, specifically, I also like the challenge of the food restrictions.
What's your favorite Jewish food?
Living in Texas, I’m a huge fan of brisket (In Austin, it’s usually smoked whereas in Ashkenazi cooking it’s braised). I approach Thanksgiving like I do the Seder, in that anyone who wants to come, can. This year, I made my bourbon and coffee braised brisket and even the Texans had to admit that it’s legit. But when discussing favorite foods, I also must throw in a sweet, given my love for dessert, and rugelach is one of my favorites.
What's your earliest memory of being Jewish?
Baking with my Bubbe, and conveniently disappearing when it was time to clean up. My favorite things to make with my mom and Bubbe were rugelach and blintzes.
How do you incorporate Judaism into your daily life?
I’m involved in Austin’s Jewish community, sure, but I truly live, breathe, and eat Judaism as my life and work, through the websites. The part that doesn’t often get highlighted is the joy I get from emails and feedback on how people connected more with Judaism through the sites, either because of a recipe or because of an item they purchased through ModernTribe.
Visit Amy’s site, whatjewwannaeat.com, for awesome recipes, and check out her Instagram page for some of the most mouthwatering pictures!