Robby Hoffman – For comedian Robby Hoffman, growing up in a large family within the Lubavtich Chasidic sect first in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, and then in the Snowdon district of Montreal, wasn’t easy, to say the least.
“When I was younger, we shared 3 to 4 people in a room. Then there was sharing a shower with 11 people. There were times when I would get about 7 to 10 minutes to myself in the shower. And when someone started to knock on the bathroom door, all hell broke loose,” said Hoffman in a recent phone interview.
Club Soda and MTelus – from July 10 to 25
Hoffman will be sharing stories about being a Chasidic lesbian Jewish stand up comic as part of the line-up of this year’s Ethnic Show, which will run at two venues – Club Soda and MTelus – from July 10 to 25.
Hoffman, whose mother was a native of Montreal, never liked the idea of living with an ultra Orthodox Jewish sect in the middle of a major metropolitan city, whether it be New York or Montreal. “Lubavitchers are not that good at segregation, especially when you’re living in the middle of a large city, and it’s not a great idea when you have to have blinders on all the time,” she said.
Hoffman received degrees in accounting and finance from McGill
So at the age of 22, after she got her degrees in accounting and finance from McGill, Hoffman had an internship lined up with a major accounting firm. That’s when she became attracted to the world of comedy. “I gave myself six months to do it, and I needed a fallback plan, and I knew doing comedy was the job for me. And as soon as I did it, my heart exploded,” she said.
And then she got her feet wet at Just For Laughs. “I did the opening opening spots at the galas, which lasted about four minutes each, as people were taking their seats and the Jewish audience members were complaining about the air conditioning in the building,” she said. “They gave me a pass, and I got the chance to hang out backstage and in the green room, where many of the old guard comedians liked to tease me, and Bobby Slayton loved to give me noogies. I even got to spend five hours chatting with Marc Maron. And now performing as part of the Ethnic Show line-up sort of brings it all full circle for me.”
“Jewish-related material will always be part of her stand-up material” – Hoffman
Hoffman admits that because of her ethnic background, Jewish-related material will always be part of her stand-up material. “I know that I cant get away from Jewish material, so I lean into it,” she said. “But my approach is not the Jackie Mason Catskills-type approach. Yes, I do have stories to tell, but I push in the audience who think that they can’t be pushed into my Jewish content.”
When she is not doing stand-up, Hoffman does a great deal of comedy writing for TV (in which her work on the PBS series “Odd Squad” earned her an Emmy Award this past spring). As well, she is bringing to OFF-JFL her live talk show “The Early Evening Show with Robby Hoffman”, which was a huge hit in Los Angeles, for a two-night run (July 22 and 26) at the Montreal Improv.
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