Have You Heard the One About the Jewish Comedian in China?
For the past 28 years I’ve built a stand-up routine based largely on my New York neuroses, and scheduled around my personal phobia of leaving the five boroughs. When I booked a weeklong gig on the other side of the planet I had no idea what to expect—
Illustrations by A.T. Pratt
“Carry some kind of tissue with you always. Finding a stall with toilet paper there is like trying to score a gluten-free crouton at Chuck E. Cheese’s.” That was my globetrotting little brother’s advice. He had survived toasted squirrel on a stick in Burma, a threesome with twin hookers in Rio, and an Alaskan bear eating his shorts while he was still wearing them. Thus, he is my go-to for international travel survival tips.
I had been booked to headline a week-long stand-up comedy tour in China in October, a week and change before my forty-eighth birthday, and was trying not to ruminate about pulling up to the bumper of fifty. Jimmy Schubert, a solid, road-dog of a comedian who I’d befriended when we were both finalists on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” had vouched for me. After some late-night email exchanges with the promoters, it was on.
The “Kung Fu Komedy Tour” consisted of shows in a different city every night: Shanghai, Wuxi, Chengdu, Beijing and Suzhou. …