Comedian Eliot Glazer Feels Jewishness in His Bones

In Comedy Central's "2 Jews Choose," Glazer and various Jewish celebrities decide what makes something Jewish.

As we all know, Jews are called the “chosen people.” But in his upcoming digital series, Jewish comedian Eliot Glazer is doing the choosing.

Premiering today on Comedy Central’s social media channels, “2 Jews Choose” brings together Eliot and a new Jewish guest each week, including Abbi Jacobson of “Broad City,” comedian Judy Gold, Josh Peck of “How I Met Your Father,” Susie Essman of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and fashion designer Rachel Antonoff. In every mini-episode, the hilarious Jews are presented with two options, for example: ketchup vs. mustard, Tucker Carlson vs. Sean Hannity, the Mets vs. the Yankees, etc., and then, a la Lenny Bruce’s famous routine, they decide which is Jewish and which is goyish.

For reference, you can check out this one-off episode Eliot did with Seth Rogen last year:

The show is cute, bite-sized, funny, deeply relatable for Ashkenazi Jews and very much in Eliot Glazer’s wheelhouse.

Not only is he the brother of everyone’s favorite Jewess Ilana Glazer, but he also played Ilana’s brother Eliot on “Broad City.” Additionally, Eliot has written for “New Girl” and “Younger” (including the episode “Hot Mitzvah”), acted in “An American Pickle,” and most recently worked on the second season of the “iCarly” reboot. In short, the man knows what’s Jewish and he also knows what’s funny.

Last week I caught up with Eliot over Zoom to discuss everything “2 Jews Choose,” including explaining the word “goyish” to non-Jews and his mom’s idea to “bring it to bar mitzvahs.”

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

What was the inspiration behind “2 Jews Choose”?

A few years ago I was dating a Christian guy from Texas. And there would be so many moments where we would come across something and he just didn’t understand why I was like, yeah, I’m Jewish, that’s just not for me. He just didn’t get it. And it was so funny for us. Here I was sort of educating him on Jewish stuff, or what felt instinctively right or wrong or appropriate for me. And I thought, God, it’d be so funny to talk about what feels inherently Jewish with other Jewish people in a way that’s fun, breezy and inclusive. And so here we are now on Comedy Central Digital.

And how did you come up with the guests and questions?

Well, a lot of the guests I happen to know. I’ve been a huge, huge fan of Judy Gold forever and got to know her through the comedy scene in New York. She literally Facebook messages with my parents now. So that’s where we are. But I know Susie Essman from “Broad City,” of course. And Abbi Jacobson too, though we also grew up doing improv together in New York. And then I was introduced to Josh Peck, who happens to be on “iCarly” right now, which I wrote for, so that was sort of a coincidental meeting of the minds.

How I came up with everything: I don’t know, I have a love of ephemera and cultural randomness, I guess you would call it. I just love the idea of comedy that’s completely subjective, but it’s treated like facts or science or data. And so for me, “2 Jews Choose” is great, because clearly there are no rules. There is no science behind what makes mustard more Jewish than ketchup. But at the end of the day it’s in our bones. That, to me, is so fun. And why not share that with people? Because whatever your religion or your background or your faith, everyone shares some sort of language with people in their tribe. I’m just glad it’s falling on Jewish American Heritage Month.

I love how light and fun it is. Though, in the first two episodes, you begin the show with the slogan, “Although you may hate the Jews, we don’t hate you. We just judge you harshly.” Is that a self-conscious reference to rising antisemitism?

Yeah, it’s super-conscious. The idea came from being in a relationship with a non-Jew, but the timeliness felt… truly, it was born out of just antisemitism. I don’t mean to laugh, but Judy Gold talks a lot — in her act and also in conversation — about how we were raised, the constant reminder that everybody hates us. They hate us, they hate us, and it’s like, yes, I know.

But it is true, [antisemitism] feels persistent and never really goes away. The rise of antisemitism continues to creep up over and over and over. And it can be so depressing and so upsetting. And I thought God, there has to be a way to counteract it with something light-hearted and shows pride in Judaism, but that everybody can access. I hope people in their 70s, 80s, 90s can enjoy it as much as Generation Z and that it just feels like yep, this is a cultural language that we speak. I think  “2 Jews Choose” will be fun to see as something in the realm of Jewiness, but that hopefully also has a little bit of an educational tint to it and can counteract all the awful antisemitism that we constantly face.

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of my favorite lines is from the episode with Josh Peck: “Antisemitism is rampant, but we’re just having fun!”

We’re just having fun, you know, we’re just trying to do our thing. It never goes away, so instead of letting it get to us which, obviously it can and understandably so — why wouldn’t it — but still, let’s try to have a little fun. And honestly, what’s the best way to upset your haters than just by being like, yeah, this is chill! We’re good. I’m good, man.

So for the show you’re asking if things are Jewish or goyish, and for non-Jewish viewers you obviously have to explain what goyish means. You explain it as traditionally meaning “not Jewish,” but in the context of the show it means “not for us” or “not for the Jews.” I feel like goyish can have a negative connotation in the Jewish community, so I’m curious if you were consciously trying to make the word less negative and more inclusive?

Yes. I grew up with my grandma saying “goyish” with such disdain and such venom. And as a kid I guess there was a rebellious part of me that wanted to indulge in the goyish because it’s like, no grandma, look at me. I have all different types of friends.

I know goyish can have a negative connotation in the community, but why not share it with people? Why not make it understood and widespread so that it can be lighter, and it can be seen as a source of comedy rather than having that heavier connotation to it? Let it just be funny. You know, it’s not a slur. It’s just a colloquial understanding between us.

The show is a digital series, but do you have any longer term goals for it? Like more episodes or anything longer form?

I would love to see where it goes. It’d be great to make more episodes. There are plenty of Jews who I think would be into talking about it. Yesterday my mom literally suggested that I “bring it to bar mitzvahs.” Which I was like, what? And as soon as she said it, she was like, you know what? Forget I said it. But also that seems appropriate, you know? So maybe you’ll see it as a live game show at bar mitzvahs or something. But it would be great to see more episodes on Comedy Central Digital, and who knows? It could be a live show. It could be a TV show. We shall see, I guess.

Along those lines, who are some Jewish guests you’d love to have on, if you made more episodes?

Oh God, it’d be great to have my sister, Ilana. She would be an easy get. It would also be cool to chat with Fran Lebowitz. Tiffany Haddish would be amazing. Obviously Larry David would be a great guest as well. Yeah, there are plenty of people that I think would be perfect fits to talk about this stuff.

Were there any moments from the current guests that you loved, or you thought were notable, but that didn’t make the final cut?

I can’t remember any good ones offhand, but I can tell you that a moment that took me by surprise, that you’ll see in the show, is a moment with the designer Rachel Antonoff. We were talking and she mentioned that the Jewish anomaly in her household was that they would drink milk with meals sometimes. And my head almost exploded. I was like, what?! That feels like the most goyish thing you could possibly describe and to her credit, she was like, I know it’s weird. But that’s how it goes in the Antonoff household.

That’s so funny. You’ve touched on this a little bit but what do you want non-Jews to get out of the show?

So often, in my experience, even as somebody who grew up in New York, went to college in the city, lived in the city for a long time (I live in LA now), I still find, wherever I go, such a bizarre stigma to Jewishness, where it feels far away or othered or even exotic in some circumstances. And I think doing a show like this, even though it’s a light and silly and fun comedy, still, hopefully, appeals to non-Jews by showing that we have shared experiences. We have a shared language, we have a shared instinct about certain things that non-Jews might have in their religion or faith or background or ethnicity. It’s a universal experience. And this one is ours, but it’s still inclusive.

“2 Jew Choose” is available to watch on Comedy Central’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels with new episodes coming out weekly.

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