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Jewmongous among us

Sean Altman brings his Jewtacular show to Jazzbones Tuesday

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Bobble Tiki knows damn well there are things he’s allowed to joke about and subjects he shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot stick. Call it the curse of political correctness if you want, but as an average middle-aged tiki, there are a number of jokes that it just wouldn’t be funny for Bobble Tiki to make.

For the purposes of this column, let’s look at Judaism. With Jewmongous, a solo musical comedy creation of Sean Altman, set to play Jazzbones’ Ha Ha Tuesday comedy night this week, it seems safe to say jokes about being Jewish are funny. If they weren’t, Altman (who you may remember as the “founder and former leader” of Rockapella — famous for their role on TV’s “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”) wouldn’t be receiving such rave reviews.

The Philadelphia Daily News called Altman “part of a new breed of Jewish hipster comedy that includes Jon Stewart, Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman and Heeb Magazine.” Time Out New York ran a cover story declaring Altman one of the world’s “New Super Jews.”

Jewish jokes are funny. It’s been proven. They’re just not funny when Bobble Tiki tells them because he’s not Jewish. How would it have gone over if Woody Allen spent his career making fun of Mexicans? Probably not so well. Bobble Tiki knows this.

So, Bobble Tiki knows the thing to do is turn things over to someone who is allowed to be funny with Judaism — Altman. He’s Jewish, and as his soon-to-be-released Taller Than Jesus CD proves, he’s more than comfortable getting a laugh out of his religious background.

BOBBLE TIKI: Taller Than Jesus is being officially released on Christmas. How long have you been working on the record and how good does it feel to have its release just around the corner?

SEAN ALTMAN: I’m extremely proud of my debut Jewmongous album Taller Than Jesus. Prouder, even, than Madonna’s bubby at her grand-daughter’s bat mitzvah. I started Jewmongous exactly one year ago, so to have written and recorded the album in time to bequeath my Semitic peeps with a holiday stocking stuffer feels great. I like to think that I’m giving the tribe something to celebrate on Christmas.

TIKI: Why is “Jewmongous” your calling? How has your family reacted?

ALTMAN: Jewmongous hasn’t always been my calling. My first calling was aspiring new wave pop star, then aspiring acapella pop star (with Rockapella), then bonafide mid-level Kids TV star (with Rockapella on “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?”), then Legendary Father of Modern Acapella, then angst-ridden singer-songwriter trudging around the country doing house concerts. Jewmongous is simply the latest in a bizarre string of career callings that has brought me once again to the verge of semi-celebrity. It’s my first comedy endeavor, so it’s naturally quite a bit more fun than singing songs about my ex-wife. I now prefer to sing songs about my lovely JDate bride. My family loves Jewmongous, which is a mixed blessing, as they’re always trying to feed me jokes for the act.

TIKI: Do people recognize you from “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

ALTMAN: However big Jewmongous gets (and let’s face it, how big could Jewmongous get?

The best I can hope for is to be the biggest whale in the wee pond of Jewish comedy songmeisters), my claim to fame will always be that I’m the guy who composed and performed the theme to “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” And I’m cool with that, because my contribution to the burgeoning modern acapella movement is more important to me than whatever 15 minutes of novelty fame that Jewmongous might yield. That being said, I have grand visions for Jewmongous: a surprise breakout hit from this album, a TV special, an off-Broadway show, invitations to the Playboy mansion, snorting blow from the small of Kate Moss’s back, and the inevitable swift return to obscurity that novelty celebrity necessitates.

TIKI: Are you “hip” or a “Super Jew,” as some media has reported?

ALTMAN: I’m the least hip person I know, although I do usually wear black, which counts for something. I’ve been called a “Super Jew” in the context of my humor being compared to Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman and Jon Stewart, all heroes of mine, which is flattering. But let’s face it; calling me a “Super Jew” is a slight to all my fellow Jews who’ve been out there for their whole lives, pounding the pavement for the tribe. I’m just some tall Jewy-come-lately with a strong singing voice, an electric guitar and a penchant for internal rhyming.

As you may have guessed, Bobble Tiki doesn’t give a crap what you do this week because Bobble Tiki doesn’t even know you. While Bobble Tiki highly recommends catching Jewmongous at Jazzbones Tuesday, he’s resigned to the idea that you’re going to do whatever the hell you want to do — just like always. Try as Bobble Tiki might, he just can’t control you. It’s a damn shame because if Bobble Tiki ruled your world things would be a lot easier for both of us. Alas, it will never be. Catch Breakfast with Bobble Tiki every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on this rag’s blog (, and next time you’re in a pickle try asking yourself “What would Bobble Tiki do?”

[Jazzbones, with Ralph Porter, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m., $8-$12, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Bobble Tiki is going out of his head via e-mail at and www.myspace. com/bobbletiki

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