“Raising Laughter,” zooming into homes at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6, also will provide fun material by local humorist Alan (Big Al) Muskovitz.
Surrounded by people who complain about their family annoyances, Cory Kahaney jokes about hers in comedy clubs, on TV and for special events.
Funny family fiascos have built Kahaney’s career through the pandemic, and she will livestream her approach to raise funds for community service projects sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan.
“Raising Laughter,” zooming into homes at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6, also will provide fun material by local humorist Alan (Big Al) Muskovitz, who alternates between topical subjects and what can be self-deprecating. Muskovitz quipped that he avoids the equal opportunity political humor he once shared with audiences because “I just want people to like me.”
“I don’t do family relationship stuff,” said the former longtime radio personality, who often emcees events, takes on voice-over assignments and writes for the Detroit Jewish News. “I wish I could, but then I’d have to move out of my house.”
Kahaney, based in New York, stays close to family at home and nearby as she adapts those relationships into her material. Muskovitz draws more on his own idiosyncrasies and the news of the day, convinced it is much funnier than anything he could make up.
“I’ll make everybody feel a little bit of normalcy,” said Kahaney, whose TV performances have reached from Comedy Central Presents to Stephen Colbert’s talk show. “My standup is very familiar to everyone. It’s about being a wife, a mother, an ex-wife, a daughter-in-law — all that is part of being a Jewish woman.
“I love sharing anything that makes people feel less alone, and I make a special effort to bring in Jewish content when I’m performing for a Jewish group. It’s a luxury when it’s all mishpuchah,” she continued.
“I came to comedy because it was introduced to me through Jewish channels, and I’ve done an ‘Erev Christmas’ show for a large audience. I tell my family if they don’t want it in the act, don’t do it.”
Kahaney’s interest in being a comedy performer started when traveling with parents to Jewish resorts in the Catskills, where she could glimpse star humorists. Lucille Ball and Joan Rivers, so often on TV through reruns, became additional inspiration.
“I was always being thrown out of class for making jokes,” she recalled. “The teachers who liked jokes loved me. The teachers who wanted a serious classroom couldn’t stand me.”
Kahaney studied acting at New York University and wanted comedic roles before thinking of standup, which she tried when she was 21 and in her first marriage. To her dismay, stage fright took hold, and she established a career as a catering manager in a New York hotel.
Eight years later, she gave standup a second chance.
Standup Comic as Single Mom
“I was a divorced single mom so I pretty much chose doing standup comedy at the worst time anyone could possibly do it,” she said. “I would not recommend it to anybody, but it probably kept me sane. It was probably the right move because the doors started opening.
“When I was a catering manager, the head bartender worked at Catch a Rising Star, and I was dating a comedian casually,” she recalled about incentives for the career turnaround. “Also, one of the waiters worked at Dangerfield’s, and another worked at Carolines on Broadway.
“I was surrounded by it, and I really got tired of people introducing me as ‘their boss but she’s really a comedian.’ I tried it as a hobby but found myself where I was supposed to be.”
Kahaney, the wife of attorney Ken Misrok and mother of two, has had to make style changes for digital appearances although in-person club engagements are opening.
“Digital is not harder, but there’s a big adjustment,” said Kahaney, who has entertained pre-pandemic live audiences in Ann Arbor. “I think it’s like the difference between playing an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar.
“Obviously, you’re far from people, but because you’re so close through the camera, you can’t be as dramatic and larger than life the way you would be onstage.
“Because you’re in somebody’s living room, you have to do more conversational comedy. There’s nothing that gives me more pleasure than hearing an audience laugh, and I go to great lengths to do that.”
“Raising Laughter” will livestream at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6. $36 household; $75 patron. Tickets: ncjwmi.org/product/raisinglaughter or call (248) 355-3300.