Modi performing on stage at the second annual Chosen Comedy Festival in Brooklyn, NY, on Aug. 8, 2023. Photo: Shiryn Ghermezian
The Chosen Comedy Festival took place on Tuesday night for the second year in a row at the Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn, New York, and thousands attended to watch an impressive lineup of all Jewish comics ridicule them and others.
The event, following last year’s successful show in the same venue, was co-hosted by Jewish comedians Elon Gold and Modi Rosenfeld — who goes by the stage name Modi — and sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York in collaboration with Thrivewell Infusion and the New York City comedy club Stand Up NY.
The night began with musical performances by two bands, Emotional Intelligence and the Hasidic folk duo Zusha. Modi and Gold then took to the stage to roast the primarily Jewish audience of over 4,000 people and mock different types of Jews — Persians, Syrians, Israelis, Ashkenazim and Chassidim.
“I have a connection with my Jewish audience that I don’t get with anyone else,” Modi told The Algemeiner. “And that connection is that we get to go deep and really explore our beautiful heritage and culture. [There’s] thousands of years of material there to mine and when I get on stage in front of a Jewish crowd it’s a very, very special deep connection and I love it.”
Throughout the night, Modi and Gold introduced 10 Jewish comedians on stage, some who performed during last year’s event and many new faces. The comedians included Rich Vos, “The Roastmaster General” Jeff Ross, Eli Leonard (a writer on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jessica Kirson, surprise guest David Attell, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (puppeteered and voiced by Jewish comedian Robert Smigel), Ari Shaffir (who self-released his standup special called “Jew” last year), Eli Lebowicz, Eunji Kim and Josh Cahn, who joined the lineup after winning a competition held by Birthright Israel Beyond and Stand Up NY.
The show, which was DJed by Lady Blaga, ended with an epic few minutes on stage where Attell, Ross, Modi and Gold roasted each other about everything including Ross’ bald head (“you look like a mohel’s mohel” he was told), Attell’s attire (“you look like if the unabomber hung out at Katz’s Deli,” Gold told him) and Gold’s TJ Maxx-looking outfit.
While many jokes remained Jewish-centered, like last year’s show, others were intertwined with secular topics and an emphasis on Israel. Kim, who is originally from South Korea and converted to Judaism, made fun of immigrant moms while Vos joked: “If Moses walked two more f__king miles we would’ve had all the oil. Forty years in the desert and he couldn’t go two more f__king miles!”
Modi discussed how he intensely followed the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the HBO series Succession, and the “generational differences” he has with his much younger husband who is a millennial.
“People ask me, ‘are you worried that he married you for your money?’ And I said, ‘are you kidding me? I married him for technical support!’” Modi quipped.
He later said about Succession: “This family, every single room they ever walked into always had food. There were always sandwiches, pastries, a little muffin, some cut fruit — and no one else looked or touched it or spoke about it. If this family was Jewish, it is all that they would be concerned with: ‘Where did you order this from? 2nd Avenue [Deli], I’ll take it home cuz I know you don’t hold by them.’ ‘Take the fruit and give it to the housekeeper’ – it’s all that we would be discussing and we would never have the meeting.”
Gold warned that Israelis are not to be messed with and that while “Israelis return fire, Jews return merchandise.” A pre-recorded video also played on two massive screens by the stage that showed Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in London asking people about British former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and his antisemitism. Earlier in the night, Ross led the audience to sing along with him “Don’t f__k with the Jews. If you want to hear cheers and not boos, never again f__k with the Jews.”
Kosher food trucks also provided food to the audience for purchase throughout the event, ranging from smoked meats and sandwiches, to gelato and pizza.
After the show, Gold was beaming with joy about the successful night and told The Algemeiner, “I think it was a lot like shul — it was too long, but it was way funnier than any shul outing I’ve ever gone too.”
“Tonight everyone that came on stage just really killed it and delivered,” he added. “And me and Modi had the times of our lives working with all our friends. Four thousand Jews showed up for a night of unity, solidarity, Jewish comedy, and Jewish pride and I’m so happy with how it went.”
Since the first Chosen Comedy Festival last year, founded by Stand Up NY owner Dani Zoldan, the show has gone on tour in Miami, Los Angeles and the Catskills. Zoldan told The Algemeiner he hopes to take the show to other US cities in the fall and abroad next year to Israel, London and Canada.
In June, Stand Up NY hosted another Jewish-centered comedy event in Los Angeles called “The Roast of Antisemitism” that included some of the same comics from Tuesday night’s performance in Brooklyn.