UJA Campaign Event Features Curb Star

Published: October 28th 2010
in News » Local

Jeff Rosenthal, Sherry Firestone (UJA Campaign Chairs), Jeff Garlin, Leslie Salmons, Joel Feldberg (Event Chairs).
Pic: Jenn Arron

The capacity crowd in attendance at Toronto’s Fairmount Royal York Hotel last night for UJA Campaign 2011’s “Don’t you dare Curb Your Enthusiasm” event featuring comedian Jeff Garlin did not know what to expect.


What would the comedian, known for his role as Jeff Greene, Larry David’s manager, on the hit show Curb Your Enthusiasm, talk about? Curb is largely improvised. Most of the audience were likely familiar with Garlin from his Jeff Greene character but not as a stand-up comedian or live improviser.


Would he deliver a speech? Improvise off the cuff? Give the inside scoop on his pal, Larry David? Talk about his life, from growing up in a Jewish family in Chicago and Florida to comedy and later television stardom?


It’s hard to describe Garlin’s more than two hours on stage – it was improvised, full of comical tangents and asides and wisecracks about the venue. It’s safe to say that it was a little bit of everything, from wry observational humour about family and friends to jabs at the people running the giant video screens that surrounded the stage to bizarre personal anecdotes that easily could have happened to Larry David on Curb. Throughout, Garlin entertained with ease, like he was hanging out with old friends in his living room.


Overall, there was a little for all tastes. Everyone went home with a smile on their face.


 The evening began with even chairs Leslie Salmons and Joel Feldberg. Salmons said that the community is fortunate to have so many members who continue inspire and mentor the community. Feldberg added that he is proud to be a part of Campaign 2011 to “celebrate another vibrant and joyous year of Jewish life together.”


Next, UJA Campaign 2011 chairs Sherry Firestone and Jeff Rosenthal spoke. Firestone recalled her childhood growing up in Vancouver, BC. She said her philanthropic grandparents left a lasting impact and are a big reason why today she is part of the campaign. She remembers growing up with her mother’s tradition of everyone in the house donating the week’s change to tzedakah before beginning Shabbat. She said her childhood taught her about the responsibility to support her community.


She added that her grandparents “would have been proud of all of us.”


Rosenthal said that the “campaign is vital to the future of Jewish life.” He spoke about the UJA funds that are doing so much to support the Ethiopian community who live in Bat Yam, Israel. He mentioned how UJA support is doing so much to transform lives there and elsewhere.


He told the crowd that to date, campaign 2011 has raised $38 million from over 13,000 donors.


Leslie Salmons and Joel Feldberg then introduced Jeff Garlin. Garlin, who has a new memoir out called My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World, did his utmost to leave the audience in stitches throughout his lengthy performance stalking across the stage.


Garlin riffed on anything and everything on his mind for most of his two hours, spoke to audience members, talked about his childhood memories of Toronto (Garlin has relatives here), joked about the vitality the Magen Brothers’ hair (the twins were handling the music).  


Garlin was extremely relaxed on stage, performing like he’d done UJA events a million times. At the end, he was interviewed by Ralph Benmergui, host of JAZZ.FM91’s Benmergui in the Morning, followed by questions from the audience. We found out that the Garlin considers Ted Danson to be the most genuine person in show business. He also had advice for an inspiring comedian: Be nice. Garlin said that was always how he had conducted his career and it had gotten him far.


The over 600 people in attendance could not have asked for a nicer evening, full of laughter and a great dessert spread in the lobby.


No one’s enthusiasm was curbed. That’s for sure.

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