Third Time’s the Charm


There’s a man at a comedy club wearing a black suit, white shirt, and twirled sidelocks. He’s telling the audience about his last flight to Israel.

“When I show up for the flight looking like this, and the security people see that my passport says ‘Chris Campbell,’ they don’t ask me if I packed my own luggage,” he says. “They just ask me where the bomb is.”

The comedian–who, these days, goes by the first name Yisrael–converted to Judaism three times: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. His religious indecision, and the resulting medical procedure (which had to be repeated three times), is the subject of Campbell’s one-man show, Circumcise Me–which has completed international runs, including a stint off-Broadway at the Bleecker Street Theater. These days, Campbell returns sporadically to the States to tour.

Campbell has the presence and demeanor of a stand-up comic, and his show could be mistaken as such. His delivery is hilarious, and there are laugh-out-loud beats to the story. Campbell’s own eccentricity, coupled with the wild elements of his story, allows the audience to forget that there’s no cursing or indecent situations.

But the show itself is anything but tame. In his performance, Campbell makes his own story as meaningful to us as it is to him.

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