Laughter & connections
Comedian Keith Barany’s shows appeal to a variety of audiences.
“I play to a lot of country club audiences, a lot of charity fundraisers, and I play to a lot of temples, synagogues and churches,” he said. “The reason for that is I was raised religious, Orthodox Jewish, in fact, and even though I’m now a secular Jew with no religious affiliation, I know the culture enough that I can make it funny to Jewish people who attend the shows at the temples and Jewish community centers, but also because I am living a life in the mainstream it crosses over to people’s who lives aren’t like that.”
Barany’s comedy style is tasteful, but not quite for children.
“I’m not really a kids’ comedian, and when you do clean comedy, people think that you’re a family-oriented, fun, silly, larger-than-life and wear-a-clown-nose kind of comedian, but I maintain a kind of a realism edge to me,” he said. “And why, for some reason, that’s OK with the churches, I just say kudos to them for keeping an open mind.”
Keeping his material relatable to audiences is key.
“I am going to be funny for close to an hour and a half, and I’m going to tell stories about my life and I’m going to talk about a lot of things, not just the Jewish culture, not just being from New York,” Barany said. “I’m going to talk about jobs, marriage and all sorts of stories and insights because not everybody has had the chance to travel to the degree that I have. Some things they do know, some things they don’t know, but we find a way through my stories for people to go, ‘Oh, yeah, OK; this isn’t so bizarre to me’ or unfamiliar and I think by the end of the evening there’s a little bit of community.”
Timing is a big part of comedy, which is something Barany learned early.
“Literally, the unit of measurement that we talk about when we start learning the craft is you’re supposed to deliver four or five laughs per minute,” he said. “And that means if you start with a 60-second premise, if your routine only lasts two minutes, you’ve got to fit in eight to 10 laughs in the first minute, because one is to get to the second, third, fourth and fifth laugh as quickly as possible, but it also teaches you that it’s the premise because the premise is just setting up the scene.”
Getting people laughing is just as important as creating a sense of connection with audiences.
“Because you are under the lights and you are the unifying force in the room, and you’re trying to bond 150 people together who have little to no connection with one another, other than through you, you have to exercise masterful, psychological stuff,” Barany said.
Comedian Keith Barany
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9
WHERE: Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque, 5520 Wyoming NE
HOW MUCH: $25 general admission, $20 for JCC members, students and seniors at the JCC member services office, by calling 332-0565 ext. 4518, or visit jccabq.org or holdmyticket.com