Heeb publisher Josh Neuman
Despite the sloshy weather and falling ice, I got back to my roots Saturday night and attended the Heeb magazine storytelling event at the shiny-new Spertus Museum. (Question: How does a sign that reads "Caution: Falling Ice" do anything to keep you from getting hit by said ice? Apparently Krueck + Sexton, the architects behind the magnificent new Spertus facility, didn't think of everything when they designed those slanted glass panels.)
For those unfamiliar with Heeb, it's a hip, irreverent magazine for young Jewish types (like me). At Saturday's storytelling event, part of a nationwide series, comedians and writers got seven minutes to tell a seemingly unrehearsed anecdote onstage that had to have something to do with Judaism. At the six-minute mark, an accordion player would signal a time warning, which not all of the storytellers appreciated (especially Achy Obejas, editor of the noir-story anthology Havana Noir, who was in the midst of a somber tale about her ailing father). Although not all of the participants were members of the tribe, they all had a thematic story to share. One of my favorites came from Hannibal Burress, who Heeb publisher Josh Neuman says is "about to explode." Burress told a story about witnessing two Hassidic Jews pass each other on the streets of New York without saying a word, despite wearing the exact same outfit. The SIU grad has already been featured on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson; his delivery reminded me of a young Eddie Murphy.
Following the show, performers and guests retreated to Eleven City Diner for an afterparty hosted by the spot's owner, Brad Rubin. There was so much food—mmm, mini Reubens—even a roomful of Jews couldn't polish it all off. (I think Neuman agreed with me on the Reubens; I saw him eat at least two.)
Around midnight—right after I'd left for my friends' joint birthday party at Relax Lounge, of course—comedian and Chicago native Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With), who's also an interview subject in the current issue of Heeb, showed up. Garlin, who's been spotted dining at the deli all week, noshed scrambled egg whites made especially for him and hung out with the storytelling crew until 3 a.m.
Photograph: Sarah Preston