Friday, October 09, 2015

Rabbi Bob Alper Makes Pope Laugh in Comedy Contest

While my colleague Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City certainly got more face time with Pope Francis during his recent visit to the U.S. than any other rabbi, it was another rabbi who received the title "Honorary Comedic Advisor to the Pope."

Rabbi Bob Alper, the 70-year-old Reform rabbi turned stand-up comedian, had his joke chosen among thousands in the recent "Joke with the Pope" contest. Professional comedians including Bill Murray, late night television hosts Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon, and comedy writer Mike Reiss were among those who submitted video jokes to the contest on YouTube. Even Brooke Shields recorded a joke for the Pope while sitting in her closet.

Rabbi Alper's winning submission allowed him to choose a charity for a $10,000 donation. He chose Housing the Homeless in Ethiopia. I've long been a fan of Rabbi Alper since first meeting him at a synagogue in East Lansing in the mid-1990s during one of his performances and book signings. In 2007 I had a chance to open for him at a comedy show and it was truly one of the highlights of my life.

Rabbi Bob Alper - the Pope's Comedian

Rabbi Alper's winning joke sumission was: "I’ve been married for 46 years, and my wife and I are on the same wavelength. At the same time that I got a hearing aid, she stopped mumbling."

In an interview, Rabbi Alper said the one-liner was among his best work. "It’s reality,” he said. "It’s something with which people can identify. It exemplifies the Pope’s values, which are family, humor, warmth."

Mazel Tov to Bob Alper for making the Pope laugh and for his new gig as the Honorary Comedic Advisor to the Pope.

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