Michael Shafar’s latest comedy show is certainly not kosher

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Michael Shafar’s latest comedy show is certainly not kosher


Heck, you could be one of the many people who saw his sold-out debut season at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last year with a show called Jewish-ish. Now Shafar is back at MICF with Kosher Bacon.

“I kind of regretted calling the last show Jewish-ish,” Shafar says. “I mean, it was great, and a lot of people came out for it, but I think a lot of people might have been turned off by the name, like they may have seen the title and thought ‘I’m not gonna get this because I’m not Jewish.’ It wasn’t a show for Jewish people to like: if anything, it was a show for non-Jewish people. So, this year the show is called Kosher Bacon, which still has a little bit of a Jewish theme to it but isn’t quite as on-the-nose.”

“It gives me a point of difference that I like, because there are not many Australian comedians who talk about being Jewish,” Shafar says. “There are other Jewish comedians but I kind of feel like I’m the only one who uses it throughout my shows, whereas in America there would be no point doing it because I’d be one of ten thousand Jewish comedians. In Australia, it’s kind of a novelty.”

Shafar began his comedy career while finishing off his law degree on exchange in Washington DC. “I started doing open mics in the States and I think I was very lucky to get that experience because it taught me a lot about work ethic in particular, because American comics have a culture of doing gig after gig after gig and listening back, writing and re-writing, editing, and I absorbed all that in America. When I came back to Australia I tried to apply that back here. I don’t think the Australian open mic comedy scene has the same kind of work ethic that the scene does in America, so I’m not sure I would have developed that if I had stayed in Australia.

“I’ve always wanted to do comedy in different scenes because each scene has its own culture and its own idea of what’s funny. What’s going on in Melbourne comedy in, particular is a big push to be really different and alternative and original. Melbourne audiences can be very comedy-savvy which pushes comedians to try different things. It’s not like Alternative Comedy as a label – it’s something more unique to Melbourne.

Shafar’s day job is writing jokes for The Project. “It’s pretty chill for a job on a show that goes out live six days a week,” he says. “I’ll get in at around eleven, check the news and start writing jokes, basically. And every now and then a producer will say ‘I’ve got this script about Barnaby Joyce and I need some jokes,’ so we’ll work on that. Sometimes we’ll have an interview and a producer will need some funny questions to put to the guest. So you’re either writing jokes or punching up someone else’s script. It’s a good way to stay active in comedy throughout the day.