Rob Tannenbaum of Good for the Jews and his bandmate David Fagin are coming through to Jammin’ Java in Vienna on Thursday, Dec. 24 for their annual pre-Christmas show.
The musical comedy duo’s show can be included on the list of holiday traditions for those Jewish people in the area who don’t celebrate Christmas and anyone else who wants to laugh.
“What we found was that there is a huge opportunity to entertain Jews on what is otherwise the most boring day of the year for us,” Tannenbaum said.
“There is a bit of a traditional aspect to it. There are some people who come to see our show every year. That’s what they do on Christmas Eve and it does create a sense of community. You’re sitting a room with a bunch of people who are similar to you and you’re celebrating a shared tradition. In a way, for our fans, it’s a little bit like going to temple, except at temple they don’t serve beer. So in some ways Jammin’ Java is better than temple.”
The question of whether or not something is good or bad for the Jewish community is something that was pervasive for past generations of Jewish people, but hasn’t been as ubiquitous for younger generations.
Enter Tannenbaum, Fagin and their songs like “They Tried to Kill Us, We Survived, Let’s Eat” and “Reuben The Hook-Nosed Reindeer.” The songs’ lyrics simultaneously show reverence and poke fun at Jewish culture, all on the group’s melodic canvas.
“The name of the band is kind of making fun of the idea. Our parents and parents’ generation were obsessed with the question of whether something was good for the Jews or bad for the Jews,” Tannenbaum said.
“I feel like everything is kind of good for the Jews and kind of bad for the Jews. So, if people come see us and they feel that we’re good for the Jews, then they’re right and if they feel that we’re bad for the Jews then they’re right. But at least because of the name if they say ‘Look, you guys are bad for the Jews,’ I can say, no we’re Good for the Jews….It’s the perfect counter argument for anyone who thinks our show is obnoxious or offensive.”
Tannenbaum said that he and Fagin will be playing songs at Jammin’ Java from their 2012 album Songs Even the Goyim Might Like and at least one new song.
It’s a blues song about circumcision called “Foreskin’s Lament” that was named in honor of Shalom Auslander’s memoir by the same name. Tannenbaum said that Good for the Jews plan to release a new album, but couldn’t give a timetable for when fans can expect it.
“It’s kind of different because this isn’t my full-time job and it’s not David’s fulltime job, either. And there are no deadlines. It’s not like Interscope Records is calling every day to scream at our manager and demand that we finish a new album,” Tannenbaum said.
“We’re the record company, we’re the manager, we’re the band, so there is a new record in our future and there are new songs, we just haven’t gotten around to recording enough of them to make a new record yet.”
• For more information about Good for the Jews, visit goodforthejews.net.