The Reporter Group

A crowd of 165 attended the JCC fund-raiser, "Comedy Night at the J," on November 5, which featured a comedy performance by Johnny Lampert and live jazz music from Giordi DeAngelo and Spencer Rowell of the band Cicero. Throughout the evening those in attendance socialized, danced and enjoyed the food and drinks that were served. According to JCC staff, the event raised more than $13,000 for the organization.

The main presentation of the event began with Susan Walker addressing the crowd. She thanked the committee that organized the program and the community members who supported not just this fund-raiser, but also previous efforts. Following her comments, JCC President Jeff Platsky made a few brief remarks, also thanking the crowd and volunteers. Following this, he introduced Lampert.

The New York-based comedian’s act combined his signature self-deprecating material about himself and family life with humor about the Southern Tier and light-hearted audience teasing. Noting that he was "the best comedian Sheryl [Brumer] was willing to pay for," Lampert joked with Platsky and later singled out Walker, joking about how she would be responsible if the show was a failure, and Lesley Grant, from whose reaction he would know if his lines "went too far." He also made fun of the fact that he had been warned not to interact with those in the front row, whom he had been told were "the rich donors," by joking with them anyway.

To involve the full audience, he asked everyone for their Jewish denominations. Lampert questioned how a Jewish population even existed in the Southern Tier: "Was there a wrong turn on the way to East Hampton?"

Lampert’s more general topics ranged from spending $30,000 on his daughter’s bat mitzvah, which he described as akin to "driving a Mercedes off a cliff," to the difficult life of a professional comedian, which included being the only man among "400 angry women" at a show for a domestic violence group. Lampert joked about his marriage, including how it would be improved if he could have his own separate room, or an apartment and maybe a girlfriend. He also did material on hospitals and doctors, eventually closing the show by ridiculing his own sex life.

Lampert entertained for more than an hour, which allowed him to joke that he’d fulfilled his contractual obligation with Brumer. After the performance, Walker returned to the stage to thank him for his performance and invited him to stay for dessert. Platsky also thanked the audience, who resumed dancing when the event’s DJ began to play more music. Lampert spent several minutes speaking to members of the audience who came to compliment him on the show. Lampert said he enjoyed performing at the JCC and getting the audience involved. "The interaction adds an element of danger to the performance," he explained.

The program continued late into the evening as attendees enjoyed the party.

- Michael Nassberg