There are 35 seats in the Ooley Theatre, and on Saturday at least 15 of them held a Rosenblum, a fact that made the Sacramento stop on Max Rosenblum’s California-wide “Condescending Hebrew Tour” feel less like a stand-up show and more like a mini family reunion. Rosenblum is a D.C.-based stand-up comic but a UC Davis alumnus, so the homecoming feel of his Sacramento show was not a surprise.
Though it was clear I wasn’t part of the Rosenblum tribe, they were an undeniably welcoming bunch. Before the show started, a woman in the row ahead of me poured four bags of assorted Easter chocolates onto a platter and passed them on. Everyone else seemed to regard this as normal as they selected a handful of their favorite items, so I shrugged and did the same, pleased with the hospitality.
When the lights dimmed it was announced that Stephen Nicks would be opening the show. He was introduced as the co-creator of the recurring D.C. comedy show VENT! and, perhaps more important, the headlining comic’s good friend. His jokes were a little hit-and-miss, but if this was, in fact, a family reunion, Nicks would be the sort of guy you chatted with while standing in line at the buffet table. You’d come away from your interaction thinking, “Huh, he’s funny.”
Finally, Rosenblum came on, and we were all excited to see him. He felt like the golden boy we’d all been talking about who’d arrived fashionably late to the reunion. Rosenblum opened his set with the disclaimer that his humor might be unexpectedly off-color for those who knew him growing up. “I know a lot of you are thinking, ‘Oh, I know Max. He’s a sweet boy. This should be a sweet show,’” he began before reminding us that the title of his show was basically a Jewish slur. Perhaps such a disclaimer was necessary for those who knew Rosenblum at age 10. As an outsider, it felt a little excessive for an act that reached its bluest when Rosenblum told us about that one time he didn’t go down on his girlfriend.
Though he covered topics ranging from weird ex-girlfriends to uptight dog owners, misguided catcalls and returning a lost cellphone to a sex worker, two themes quickly pulled ahead as the standouts in the show: the jokes about his Jewish heritage and the times his family chimed in. Rosenblum was clearly on a roll as he likened Christmas to the Super Bowl—a day when you get your entire family together to drink and “see who says the N-word first”—and then explained that Jews liked the holiday because “while you’re inside opening presents, we’re out opening offshore bank accounts.” But that moment was arguably eclipsed when he announced that he’d always wanted to meet Aaron Rodgers and an audience member affirmed, “Yeah, you did!” To which Rosenblum could only respond, “Thanks, Dad.”
The show was solid, but I left wishing I’d been invited to the Rosenblum’s afterparty.