Light entertainment: Hanukkah comedy show returns to Union Hall

Lana Schwartz, Ilana Rubin
Founders of the fest: Ilana Rubin and Lana Schwartz will host a night of Hanukkah-themed comedy on Dec 21.
Photo by Mindy Tucker

This show is a gelt-y pleasure!

An annual comedy show featuring all Jewish performers will return next week to put Hanukkah in the spotlight. The fourth annual “Chanukahstravaganza,” at Park Slope’s Union Hall on Dec. 21, celebrates the festival of lights during a time of year when Santa Claus and a baby in a manger tend to hog all the attention, according to one of the show’s founders.

“People mostly think of Christmas, and other holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa become kind of sidebars. With this, Hanukkah becomes the main event for one night,” said Lana Schwartz.

During the show, subtitled “Brighter than Ever” a half-dozen comedians will perform standup focused on the eight-day holiday, which lends itself to laughs more than other, more somber festivities in the Jewish calendar, according to Schwartz.

“This is one of the more uplifting holidays — you don’t have to fast,” she said. “A lot of Jewish holidays are kind of downers.”

Schwartz and the event’s co-founder, fellow comedian Ilana Michelle Rubin, will emcee the show and perform short sketches between the acts, including a recurring segment about “Forgotten Heroes of Hanukkah” — lesser-known characters involved in the miraculous eight nights of oil adventure. 

The founders will also act out a few Hanukkah rom-coms — a Jewish spin on the many romantic Christmas specials that air this time of year. Previous years have also featured “Hanukkah Carols,” according to Schwartz.

For the audience, there’ll be plenty of chocolate geld to snack on, along with a dreidel-spinning competition and a raffle, with prizes that include two VIP tickets to a taping of “The Daily Show,” and a signed copy of performer Josh Gondelman’s book “Nice Try.”

All proceeds from the raffle and ticket sales will go to the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, said Schwartz.

The annual event has become a great place for participants to share their different experiences of Hanukkah, said Rubin, who added that people of all faiths are welcome at the show. 

“What’s most important to us is making people laugh and share this holiday with people who are or aren’t Jewish,” she said. 

“Chanukahstravaganza: Brighter Than Ever” at Union Hall [702 Union St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 638–4400, www.unionhallny.com]. Dec 21 at 7:30 pm. $12 ($10 in advance).