A Little Off the Top

In a popular Seinfeld episode, Jerry’s dentist pal, Tim Whatley, decides to convert to Judaism purely for the jokes. Yisrael Campbell is a real-life Tim Whatley. And although his conversion was sincere, it isn’t short on jokes. Circumcise Me, a play opening at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, is the hilarious true-life story of Campbell and his spiritual journey through a life of misspent youth, drug addiction, and getting his penis clipped three times in his attempt to convert to Judaism. Before he was Yisrael Campbell, he was Christopher Campbell, a suburban Philadelphia kid raised as a Catholic, who spent his youth boozing, drugging, and raising hell as only a good Irish-American could. Campbell’s tale spans four decades, two continents, and one Chosen People as he recounts his steps toward converting from Christopher the hell-raising Irish Catholic to Yisrael the Orthodox Jew. It’s an unforgettable tale that’s too good (and too funny) not to be true. But it’s also the poignant story of man’s journey to finding God, as literally painful as it might have been. Witness its sharp wit and good, old-fashioned shtick when it opens this Wednesday.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: March 16. Continues through March 27, 2011
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Chris Joseph