By Shari Goldstein Stern
Congregation Shearith Israel will erupt into a laughfest at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, when author and actress Jill Kargman takes the stage of the Aaron Family Main Sanctuary. The “Odd Mom Out” actress was the creator, writer, producer and star of the scripted Bravo TV series, playing a satirical version of herself navigating the hilarity of raising children on the Upper East Side in New York City.
After graduating from Yale in 1995, Kargman started her writing career in the magazine world as an assistant and has written for Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, Departures and Allure. She also created the column “EyeSpy” for Style.com, which ran for five years.
The torture and hilarity of her work experiences at the bottom of the magazine hierarchy inspired her 2000 Sundance movie “Intern.” Afterward she worked in television and wrote for several shows for MTV, including “So Five Minutes Ago” and the MTV news doc series “Who Is.”
After her magazine, movie and television work, Kargman began writing novels to give her more flexibility to be home with her three children: Sadie, Ivy, and Fletch. She is a New York Times best-selling author of multiple books, including “The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund”; her personal essay collection, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut” (which was #3 on the Humor chart behind Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris); and “Momzillas,” which was translated into 14 languages and appeared on charts worldwide.
Now, the native New Yorker will bring her brand of humor to Shearith in a Q&A format in which the audience will participate.
Lisa Zale said she and Elaine Pearlman were serving on the Shearith Israel board when it was time to plan a fundraiser. Both had read Kargman’s New York Times best-selling books and had seen her television series.
The two agreed that Kargman would bring great entertainment to an event. “She’s funny and light, smart and Jewish,” Zale said. “She’s the full package.”
“We’re all chairs,” Zale added, about the fundraiser’s planning committee. Along with Zale and Pearlman, the group includes Dawn Aaron, Barbra Applebaum, Courtney Goldberg, Lauran Goldberg, Lisa Goldberg, Beth Konig, Ann Ochstein, and Jody Stein.
Mark Oppenheimer will serve as moderator for the evening. Oppenheimer is an author, Yale University lecturer and host of “Unorthodox,” an irreverent weekly podcast about the news of the Jews, from Tel Aviv to Telluride, from (Natalie) Portman to Portland (Oregon). It’s the No. 1 Jewish-themed podcast on iTunes, with more than 2 million total downloads.
It was at a taping of “Unorthodox” in New York that Zale and Konig heard Kargman and Oppenheimer together.
“Jill and Mark were hilarious, so we asked Oppenheimer to join her in the show. He had plans to be in Houston the day before, so the stars aligned.” Konig said. “We knew that together, Jill and Mark would take our event to the next level.”
“I am thrilled to be doing a live event with Jill Kargman,” Oppenheimer said. “Not only is she a terrific novelist, but my wife and I binge-watched her hilarious TV show, ‘Odd Mom Out,’ all while consuming many pints of Haagen-Dazs. Jill brings her sharp wit, off-kilter sensibility and neo-Goth outfits (check out the creepy wrist tattoo) to everything she does. I’ve had the good fortune to have seen her bizarre, hilarious mind in action — and to hear her belt pop songs since the early ’90s, when she and I were undergraduates together at Yale. We all knew she’d go places, although we weren’t sure where. I’m glad the answer was ‘Dallas.’”
Oppenheimer continued, “As for me, for six years I wrote ‘Beliefs,’ the New York Times’ biweekly religion column. I also wrote ‘Thirteen and a Day,’ the definitive book about crashing bar mitzvahs.”
Oppenheimer concluded, “One reason I am excited for this show is that Jill can be serious as well as funny: Her thoughts on Judaism and anti-Semitism (see sidebar on this page) are profound. I think this evening will be a showcase for her wisdom as well as her wit.”
“The professional staff at Shearith have been wonderful partners,” Zale said. “We especially appreciate COO Kim West and Communications Director Julie Carpenter for their cooperation,” the women agreed.
The performance is recommended for ages 21 and older. For tickets and information, visit www.shearith.org.
To learn more about Kargman, go to jillkargman.com. Oppenheimer’s website is markoppenheimer.com.