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Stand-up Comedy Routine #4

Only a couple of more classes left to my Stand-up Comedy class at Santa Monica College. My stand-up comedy teacher wants me to be more conversational and less theatrical when I deliver my bits. My husband said, “Is he asking you to be more white and less Dominican?”

Aliza on Stupid Questions

I am a self-described Jewminicana—a Jewish American Dominican hybrid, who grew up Dominican in New York and converted to Judaism.

I make identity seem like an extreme sport.

Either people are really uncomfortable around me (“You can’t be Jewish and Latina, you have to choose!”) or really, really comfortable around me. So comfortable, they’ll ask me just about any awkward question that pops into their head.

For instance…

Do you have sex through a hole in a sheet?

Honestly, if I did, would I be telling you?

And how come you won’t eat food that’s not blessed by a rabbi?

Then I have to get into the fact that kosher does not mean a rabbi performed some kind of Jewish hocus pocus over my turkey sandwich.

But then my friends want to know exactly what kosher means and they get this worried look on their face like kosher means I’m going to starve from lack of options.

I tell them kosher means no pork (which my Mami never let me eat anyway), no cheeseburgers (did I mention I’m lactose intolerant), no shellfish (amazingly I’m allergic) and no octopus legs (which I spent most of my childhood eating straight from the can. Slurp, slurp.).

Honestly, the most important food groups are kosher: rice, beans, and plantains. Obviously, my stomach is 100% Dominican.

The only conversation my deadbeat dad and my husband have ever had was about keeping kosher.

Papi told my husband how Dominicans kill chickens. By whirling them over their head until the neck cracks.

My husband told Papi how Jews kill chickens. Quick slice to the neck.

I think I made the right decision, don’t you?

Awkward question #2,506: So you don’t believe in Jesus?

I’ve gotten this question in the public bathroom, from my mother-in-law’s Hispanic maid, from my sad-faced former Santeria (Spanish voodoo) worshipping relatives.

No, I tell them, I don’t believe in Jesus.

And then they get this look on their face. This OH MY GD look on their face which is quickly followed by the statement, “Well, you’re going to hell!”

Can anyone explain to me why Christians believe this ever makes for good, polite conversation?

And when I tell people I converted, they ask, “So you married a Jew?” As if to say I converted for marriage. I’m sorry guys, Gd, but I would never do something this crazy hard for love.

And then I’m standing all casual like outside of synagogue, after just having had a Shabbat meal (yum!) with the twit who’s aching to ask me the next stupid question of the day…

”Are you Jewish?”

No, seriously, I just like to loiter outside of Orthodox synagogues waiting to see if they’ll be handing out free gefilte fish at some point on Saturday afternoon.

For Gd’s sake, I reply, “Yes I’m Jewish.”

But then I get “Funny, you don’t look Jewish.”

It’s incredible that with my anger management problems, I don’t smack more people on a daily basis.

My Jewish friends want to know why Dominican women dress like…what was the word they used? Sluts. And my Dominican friends want to know why Jewish women dress like they hate their bodies. I mean, for instance, Catholicism doesn’t say anything about being a walking fashion faux pas for Jesus.

One little beady-eyed Dominican lady laughed at me for wearing sneakers and a skirt. She didn’t think I understood Spanish. You see, people don’t think I’m Hispanic, they think I’m biracial.

I know this because I’ve been asked:

Are you part black?

Are you African-American?

And…why is your hair so nappy?

Sometimes all in the same conversation.

When I tell Dominican cab drivers I’m Dominican too, they turn around in their seats to look at me with open mouths agape and they ask, “You’re Dominican?”

Didn’t I just say I was?

So I don’t look Jewish, Dominican or American.

I know I don’t look American because the other day at a Shabbat table, while reaching over for my next piece of challah, I got asked, “Are you from America?”

As the wife of a future rabbi, I’ve been told that it’s not kosher to give people the finger.

My not Orthodox Jewish friends want to know if I’m Orthodox because I hate women. Well, obviously, aren’t I wearing my “I’m Orthodox, I hate women” t-shirt.

No, I’m probably wearing my “Gotta Love that Jewfro” t-shirt. So that five people ask me if I’m Jewish that day. No, I just like wearing Jewish shirts. Hello? DUH.

Am I wearing a sign that says ask me stupid questions, please? And If am, how can I get this thing surgically removed?

12 thoughts on “Stand-up Comedy Routine #4

  1. A friend of mine was at a separate-seating wedding and her African American husband came up to her and told her he was ready to leave. As she collected her purse and a bencher, one of the women asked her if that was her chauffeur.

    She smiled and said “Well, since he IS the one driving tonight, I suppose technically he IS the chauffeur. But he's also my husband.”

    Yeah, that shut the biddies up right quick.


  2. As to the question do you have a sign “Ask me dumb questions” on your forehead, I'd have to say

    No you don't, but you are visibly different than what many people are used to.

    Which doesn't mean they should be rude, but it's not so UNreasonable for them to be curious, i.m.o.


  3. All I can say is wow. I applaud you for living YOUR life. Not the life others want or expect you to live. You are beautiful, inside and out. You encourage me to embrace what is unique and special about me regardless of what others think. I am a christian who recently started attending a Messianic Jewish Temple. As you can imagine, it has caused quite a stir in my family; all wanting to know if I'm converting. One year or so prior I became a vegetarian. Only to invoke more stupid questions. Why is it we want to put everyone in a box?!!! Thank you for your encouragement


  4. Alan – It's certainly not unreasonable for people to be curious, but “curious” does not equal “a license to ask any personal question I want.” I believe people are obligated to show some restraint and put respect for another person's dignity and privacy above their curiosity about something that's none of their business.

    I am a white Jewish convert rabbinical student who still comes in for frequent comments about my name and my looks, and questions about why I decided to convert. I usually don't mind the questions, but I could sure do without being told I look like a shiksa. (Rabbinical students are also not supposed to give people the finger.)


  5. That's funny. 😀 And honestly? It is easier to give up pork BBQ than it is to give up the finger. I will probably never give up the finger. Knowing sign language is the only thing that makes me bi-lingual, and that's the only sign I know.


  6. Great post. I, like Heidi, am a white convert and frequently end up in awkward conversations. I have had old ladies squint at me, ask me if I was Jewish, and then after I answer in the affirmative nod in approval and say “beautiful.” I don't like the implication that anyone they think is pretty must not be a Jew. And what is it with Jews always wanting to know my last name? It's of the Irish persuasion and always throws people off.


  7. Russian BT and I soooo miss bacon and cheeseburgers…*sigh*

    “Do you have sex through a hole in a sheet?”
    No, hole in the shower curtain because Jewish women are only allowed to be naked in the shower and mikva.

    “And how come you won’t eat food that’s not blessed by a rabbi?”
    Because it's not blessed by a rabbi, duh.

    “So you don’t believe in Jesus?”
    So you don't believe in Jesus being Jewish, being married and having children?

    Gefirte fish? Ewww!

    “Are you Jewish?”
    No, I'm just waiting for my boyfriend.

    Why be nasty and mean? Because it's fun and because the t-shirt says “I'll be nicer when you'll be smarter.” 😀


  8. “”So you don’t believe in Jesus?”
    So you don't believe in Jesus being Jewish, being married and having children?” LOLOLOLOLOL

    I'm white, Christian, from the midwest, only been to either coast once, live in a town of about 40,000, and this is the problem with most people I know – we have a lot of curiosity. But there is no forum to ask dumb questions, nobody that volunteers to explain their religeon, nobody that will honestly answer what kosher means in every day life and what you have to do differently to respect it, (why is it on pickles? I heard that means no garlic in them.)what the SIMILARITIES are between Catholic, Methodist, Jewish, and Muslim religeons are. I suspect more than a few… All because people are afraid to tell someone something becasue they are afraid they will be judged. I am. I don't want someone to laugh at me because I was brought up believing Christ died for me, or that rainbows are a sign of hope, or that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I don't know any other way. Where do I go to talk about why your hair is different than mine? Doesn't it suck to have to put so much effort into making it look like what society thinks it should, like my Mom's fake hair color, and eyebrows, and my sister who starightens her hair EVERY morning? My view of women is certainly not the skinny, straight haired, blemish free type in magazines, but rather someone with some meat on them. Then again, I may be the odd one, who knows? Who do I talk to about why my black next door neighbor won't eat my spaghetti? I thought it tasted good. They laughed because it wasn't a side to something else, but still would not eat it at all. Why do some women cover their face and others cover their whole body? If I think the middle eastern lady that covers her head up with a scarf, that lives down the street, is hot, will I get struck by lightning? Why does the guy at the store get 40 virgins and I don't get any? What if I would rather NOT have virgins? Is that bad or? (Secretly I am really glad my wife was not.) Why am I Methodist, but Jesus was Jewish? If I could get 5 people together from different races and different religeons together, so we could all ask each other anything we wanted, I would sure feel closer to them, and more accepting when they tell me something they do that has been so foreign to me for all my 39 years. Maybe we laugh, but we laugh together, and understand where customs come from to begin with.


  9. A lot of the stuff you can look up on wiki and on religious sites. Kosher just means it doesn't contain ingredients from not kosher fish, animals and birds, and does not contain bugs. Kosher animals need ritualistic slaughter. Grape juice and wine have to be made by sabbath observers, and for this reason anything with natural flavors or colors needs to be kosher because grape juice is frequently used in both.

    Don't worry about the 40 virgins, they all look like Janet Reno.


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