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DVD Review: Kosher Stand Up With Robert Cait

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When deciding to take on a career in the arts, the one thing that will separate you from a herd of like-minded cattle is ‘finding your voice’. This, simply, means getting comfortable with yourself, your medium, and your material. Once you reach that easygoing level, you can maneuver within it to truly discover the reasons you were drawn towards your creative craft in the first place.

For comedian Robert Cait, his career has come to be defined by his heritage and his religion. Cait is Jewish, and allows that simple fact to drive much of his material. In his new double-feature DVD release, Kosher Not Kosher, Cait attempts to split his material down the middle, by exploring much of the breadth and depth of this Jewishness on the Kosher side, and opening himself up to a broader audience on the Not Kosher side. It’s just a shame that neither are particularly effective.

Robert Cait has built himself a long and deserving career in comedy, opening for Dennis Miller in Las Vegas, appearing on A&E’s Evening at the Improv, and even voicing many of the cartoon characters your children may cherish, from Colossus in X-Men to a short stint on the hilarious show Duckman. He is obviously a respected member of the comedy community who has amassed enough material to warrant a DVD complete with two different stand up sets, the first from the Chabad Jewish Center in Chatworth, and the other from The Laugh Factory. But pretty quickly into both sets, you just start to get the idea that this type of comedy is on its way out. With great comics like Dan Levy, Daniel Tosh, Patton Oswalt, and Andy Daly, it just feels like you’re seeing a vaudeville act play with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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Cait opens his Jewish half-hour (the kosher side) with a few punny lines about getting your money's worth in Chatsworth, before sliding slowly into a bit about the awkward ‘tango’ of finding out if someone is Jewish, complete with dance moves. It seems like he really shines in front of this like-minded audience of middle-aged (presumably) Jewish folks, as he continues on with bits about Jewish schools, speaking Yiddish, and the militancy of Israeli teachers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a person under 30 in the crowd, which means Cait is really hitting his demographic but also building quite a narrow niche. He bills himself as a clean comic with mass appeal, which is not to discount him at all, but you don’t always need to be dirty to be provocative or truly exploratory. Instead, Cait is trampling on ground that is already well worn, without the insight or audacity to put the material in a new light.

On the not kosher side, Cait keeps about 30% of his material from the kosher corner, and tries to expand the rest on what it means to be a father and husband. Here, too, the topics are not new, and the material is not fresh enough to be really funny. There are a few chuckles, to be sure, but it all just feels so safe. This is the stand up DVD you’d want to show your grandparents at Hanukkah, because you don’t have anything else to talk about.

Robert Cait has done a serviceable job as a member of the old comedy guard, and I’m quite sure he is still amusing the over-40 crowd somewhere in the valley right now. But it is hard to see material like Kosher Not Kosher sticking around much longer, when there are so many fresh faces and strong opinions we might rather hear.

Robert Cait’s DVD Kosher Not Kosher will be available from Video Service Corp., for sale on and at other DVD retailers beginning March 24th.

Photo courtesy Amy Levy PR.