Talia Reese is one of the few Orthodox Jewish female comics around. The Great Neck, Long Island, resident recently got rousing applause when she headlined at Stand Up New York on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Reese told The Jewish Press that her two daughters, who are 14 and 16, think it’s cool that their mom does comedy and shows up on TikTok.
At the University of Pennsylvania, she performed with an all-female comedy group called Bloomers. Reese, who also attended Cardozo Law School, said when she was first starting out and did skits, all the other girls would want to be pretty.
“I would throw on a wig and be the wackiest character,” Reese said.
Whether it is post-pandemic times or people are stressed from watching people argue about politics, Reese said, more and more people are wanting comedy.
“They’re hungry for it,” she said. “It’s like an addiction.”
Her set drew more than 100 people. “This is like an intimate Persian dinner,” she said.
She tells Great Neck Jews she is Bukharin and not Ashkenazi.
“That’s worse,” they tell her.
Reese said she was Reform growing up, before becoming religious during her college years. She went to Kutsher’s Hotel in the Catskills and loved to see Cantor Dudu Fisher and his powerful voice.
She added that a big difference between Reform and Orthodox synagogues is that Reform synagogues take “Adon Olam” very seriously.
“At Orthodox services, ‘Adon Olam’ is like the closing credits,” she said.
Reese performs at firehouses, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues as well as clubs and private events.
The recent event also included comedians Eli Lebowicz, Mikey Greenblatt and Rami Matan Even-Esh.
Lebowicz asked the crowd if they’d seen the new Netflix show “Jewish Matchmaking,” and he got big laughs when he said he’d base his own on a famed New Jersey locale.
“I’m gonna make my own Jewish matchmaking show for Syrians,” Lebowicz said. “It’s called ‘Deal or no Deal.’”
He also said many people have moved to Florida or Israel, which actually are quite similar: “You’re terrified to drive there; it’s always raining, you’re super hot and everyone has a gun,” he said.
Mikey Greenblatt commented that it’s interesting how Jews have stage names to make them sound less Jewish. “Jon Leibowitz is now Jon Stewart. Jonah Feldstein is now Jonah Hill. Chaim Weiss is now Kanye West.”
He also said Askenazi dance moves at simchas consist only of going counter-clockwise. “We gotta step up our game,” he said.
Rami Matan Even-Esh, known as Kosha Dillz, is best known for rapping with Matisyahu, Nissim Black and others. Since getting cast on the VH1 show “Wild N’ Out” he’s been around top comedians and begun to also do standup comedy.
“My first name is Ram, which means ‘high, exalted’ in Hebrew, my middle name is Matan, which means gift in Hebrew, so all my friends in middle school called me Ramadan,” he said to applause.
He also said the founder of the show is outpacing many. “Nick Cannon has 12 children,” he said. “He puts your rabbi to shame.”
As for Reese, comic Caroline Rhea gave her the advice to speak urgently, like she’s talking to a friend on stage and Reese said it helped.
She also said that while she has performed at numerous Pesach programs, she has no superstitions but does have a rule she sticks to.
“I don’t like to eat before I go on stage. When I see comics eating so much, I’m like, ‘How can you do that?’ I like to be light. I like to be able to move and have energy.”
Reese and Lebowicz appeared at the Chosen Comedy Festival’s Opening Night with Olga Namer, Eli Leonard, Elon Altman and headlined by Elon Gold. The show took place at The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark in Monticello on July 29.
On August 8, The Chosen Comedy Festival will take place at the Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn. Last year’s show drew more than 4,000 people. It will once again be hosted by Gold and Modi, with Jeff Ross, Ari Shaffir, Jessica Kirson and with a musical performance by Zusha.
The Chosen Comedy Festival is produced by Stand Up NY and Thrivewell Infusion in sponsorship with UJA Federation.
Reese will next perform at Clearview Estates on August 5 – and also at Chabad of The Beaches in Long Beach, N.Y., on August 10.