Friday, March 5, 2010

Comedy Showcase: Meet Mendy Pellin, Chasidic Comic and Funny News Reporter

"Every day for me is Purim.  I like to joke around, not take life too seriously."  That's a quote that Jewish Humor Central's Blogger-in-Chief would expect to be attributed to him or to many of his readers, but one very unlikely to be heard from a black-bearded Chasid in a black hat and black suit. 

Anyone who has seen and heard Mendy Pellin, the 27-year-old Chasidic comic and creator of The Mendy Report on, knows otherwise.

Pellin made those comments in an interview with talk show host Brian Lehrer on his Brian Lehrer Live TV show, and his mock TV news programs, man-in-the-street interviews, and general funny shtick show that his true colors are not only black.

Pellin was born to a Chasidic family in Denver, Colorado. He spent most of his childhood growing up in Crown Heights, New York, home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. At age 7, he was already learning the tricks of the trade at a local puppet theater, but quickly moved on to baffle crowds all around the globe.

With nothing like his show in the Jewish world and over 50,000 viewers per broadcast, Mendy blends Chasidic spirituality with out-of-the-box humor. He aims to overcome stereotypes commonly attributed to ultra-Orthodox Jews.

As Gregory Beyer reported in The New York Times in January 2008,
Standing 6 feet 2 inches and wearing a long, dark beard, Mr. Pellin is aware that his appearance may suggest, to those outside the Hasidic community, an intense humorlessness. “The Mendy Report” is his lighthearted attempt to prove otherwise by parodying local, national and international news, in a style that sometimes recalls Comedy Central staples like “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report.” 
Here's a typical Mendy Report.  Because it's a Purim edition, it's even funnier than usual.

Pellin's shtick caught the attention of the Tonight Show and he was invited to be the rabbi in a segment introduced by Jay Leno involving a rabbi, a priest, and a minister -- one of the classic joke situations.  Here is a video of Pellin preparing for the show and delivering his joke on nationwide TV.

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