As the Jewish Community Center prepares for its first annual Sam Gordon Old Columbus Jews Telling Jokes comedy event at 8 p.m. on January 18, two community members-turned-amateur comedians are gearing up to host.
Marcie Golden and Joe Dorrian, familiar to many members of Temple Beth Shalom who may know Golden as Rabbi Howard Apothaker’s wife and Dorrian as its Quiz Night host, are preparing their jokes now, including a collaborative take on the Saturday Night Live sketch, Weekend Update.
Golden is co-president of the National Council of Jewish women, and holds an MBA with a background in International Studies. She has 30 years experience in the private sector, specializing in homeland security business development. She recognized that most community members don’t associate her name with comedy.
But it was a Temple Beth Shalom congregant, Roger Friedman, who first suggested she perform as mistress of ceremonies for Old Columbus Jews Telling Jokes.
“I tend to blurt out one-liners. I’m known for this by a few people,” said Golden. It was after one such one-liner at Shabbat services that Friedman mentioned how hilarious Golden was to Old Columbus Jews Telling Jokes event organizer, Fred Luper. “That’s my humor, my personality. It’s who I am,” said Golden.
“I enjoy performing, and I think this is a great avenue for the community. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she added.
The contributions of those in the audience will be the main focus of this karaoke-style night of comedy honoring the life and jokes of local jokester, Sam Gordon (z’’l). Everyone in attendance is invited to approach the stage and share a joke or two, in remembrance of “Smiling Sam” Gordon or in keeping with the spirit of old, Jewish jokes.
Golden’s comedy reflects the lighthearted humor she was surrounded by growing up in a Jewish household, but is punctuated by witty one-liners reminiscent of Bette Midler. Dorrian’s humor is more absurdist commentary, gleaned from years of experience doing stand-up for audiences at The Funny Bone Comedy Club or as an opening act for comedians like Jeff Foxworthy and Ron White.
Each host came to comedy via a different path. Golden was heavily influenced by her father, Dick Golden, who was also a close friend of Sam Gordon’s. Remembering how her father’s humor rubbed off on her, Golden explained: “We used to say with the old Yiddish Jokes, ‘#16!’ That was ‘Taste the Soup.’ Or, #12, ‘I make a living…’ We just heard the jokes so often, the same jokes growing up.”
“Anybody who knows my father knows why I’m funny,” said Golden. “I developed a sense of humor when my father taught sex-ed to mixed groups at the Jewish Center when I was in fifth grade. I thought everybody grew up at breakfast playing straight to their dad’s humor.”
On the other hand, Dorrian grew up in a conservative, Irish Catholic household before discovering his Jewish soul. “I knew from a very young age that I would grow up to be Jewish. I was always drawn toward Judaism,” he said.
Dorrian comes from a political family that includes his uncle, City Auditor Hugh Dorrian, and his father, former Franklin County Commissioner Michael Dorrian. It was during his father’s 1978 campaign for Lieutenant Governor with Richard Celeste that the younger Dorrian’s nefesh began to emerge.
He remembered his first, real encounter with Judaism, at 12 years old. “The head of PR for my father’s campaign was David Milenthal. He invited us to the second night Seder that Passover. I remember going and thinking, ‘Wow! This is cool that you get to sing a lot of fun songs, like Dayenu,” Dorrian said.
Golden insists she is a novice when it comes to delivering stand-up. But humor seems to ooze out with her every word and utterance. “A lot of my humor is things that I just heard come out of my mouth that I then write down because it was funny,” she said.
“My humor is a lot of what defines me,” said Golden, whose largest audience was 500 cruise ship guests. “I started out by imitating Lily Tomlin. When I become Ernestine the Telephone Operator, you never know what I’m going to say.”
She often finds herself using her father’s one-liners in daily life, like during her part-time job in customer service. “I’ll say things like, ‘At no time do my hands leave my wrists,’ when I’m counting back money to someone. These are jokes that really don’t make any sense, but they’re funny and make you crack a smile,” said Golden.
“It’s great how a smile and humor can give someone a good day. Because at the end of the day, it’s not all about you,” she added.
Like Golden, Dorrian uses humor to lift others up, even in his daily life. “If people paid a little bit more attention to the absurdities, theirs’ and others’, they’d find life a little bit funnier and easier to live,” he said.
After performing as a stand-up comic for five years, Dorrian took his humor into the business world where, in 1993, he began a career in organizational and leadership development. Now, Dorrian uses humor on a daily basis in his work with OhioHealth.
“I’ve used humor the last 20 years, but now there is a purpose behind it. It’s to help people grow and develop. It’s really a calling. …Health care really resonates with me just like Judaism does. I use humor to help people deal with the stress of their daily grind and to help them develop better communication skills. It’s pretty powerful,” he said.
“At the end of the day, laughter is good for everybody,” added Golden.
Everybody—especially those in need of a good laugh—is invited to the Jewish Community Center at 1125 College Avenue in Columbus. Beginning at 8 pm, January 18, a cash bar and refreshments will be served. Tickets for this special, one-night only event are $30 per person or $25 each for groups of ten or more and can be purchased at the JCC Front Desk.
For tickets or more information, call 614-231-2731 or visit www.jccgalleryplayers.org.