If you were planning on going to tomorrow's Jewmongous show at Club Passim, I just got word from Sean Altman (who is, literally and figuratively, Jewmongous) that the early show has sold out, and Passim has added a late show. Call Passim or check their schedule for details. Altman has been busy on tour, but I got in touch with him by e-mail to ask a few questions about his comedy/music act, and how it has grown since he released the Jewmongous album last year.
How would you describe your Jewmongous show to the uninitiated?
Original, exceedingly catchy, Jewish-themed comedy songs sung by a tall man with high cheekbones, a winning smile, a golden voice and an obsession with his shmeckel.
Is there another Jewmongous album in the works?
Of course! I hope to have it ready by late 2009.
Are you still working with most of the songs from the Jewmongous album? What can people who saw the last Passim Jewmongous show expect to see that’s different this time around?
I’ve added guitarist extraordinaire Matt Detro to fill out the sound and make the show sound more like the album. We’ll be debuting a new love song called “Phantom Foreskin” and making every other song sound more rockin’.
Do you feel like that identity has evolved into something apart from anything you’d do just as Sean Altman?
Most certainly; JEWMONGOUS, as a comedy song project, allows me to take lyrical risks and use inappropriate language that would not be suitable for my normal, sensistive pop song act. It’s nice to be able to have two very distinct projects that are both musically and lyrically fulfilling in their own ways.
I have to admit, I thought the White House Hanukkah party was a put on until I saw the photo with Lieberman. How did you get the invite to the White House?
As the “Father of Modern A Cappella” (owing to my eleven years as the leader of Rockapella), I was asked by a Jewish vocal group called Kol Zimra to vocal arrange and produce an album of Jewish a cappella. That album was so successful that they asked me to do occasional gigs with them. Thus, we’ve twice performed at the White House Hanukah party, in 2004 and again last week.
How was Lieberman when you posed for the photo? Was he reluctant?
Senator Lieberman or, as I like to call him, “Traitor Joe”, was very friendly and had even read about JEWMONGOUS. I hope he listens to the album I gave him and invites me for Shabbos dinner some night.
Did you live here at one time? If your brother went to Brookline, did you as well?
My parents divorced when I was a kid and my brother lived with my Dad in Boston while I lived with my Mom in the New York. I consider both great cities my home, although my sports allegiances are squarely with Boston.
Are people mostly familiar with the songs when they show up?
No, I seem to get a lot of new audience at each show. Either that or people forget the lyric punchlines from year to year. In either case, people laugh and for that I’m most grateful.
Are people who know you from other projects offended by songs like “Christian Baby Blood” or “Blow, Murray, Blow?”
I think that anyone who sets foot in a show named JEWMONGOUS has a pretty good idea that they’re not going to witness an Israeli Folk Dancing troupe. The name of the act tends to steel people for the kind of irreverence that I dish out.
What are your plans for Christmas Day?
After selling out a large venue in Washington DC area, we’ll be shlepping back to New York for a much needed one day rest, which will give me time to become reacquainted with my newborn daughter’s lovely face and technicolor poop.