Ophira Eisenberg is Addicted to Comedy

Published: February 17th 2010

Ophira Eisenberg
Pic: Anya Garrett
Ophira Eisenberg performing
Pic: Courtesy of Ophira Eisenberg
Ophira Eisenberg
Pic: Matt Bresler


Ophira Eisenberg is a nice Jewish girl gone bad who lies – and no, she’s not a compulsive liar. Eisenberg’s actually a comedian. She’s part of the Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad comedy show, The Liar Show, where four performers tell stories, and the New York storytelling sensation The Moth. Voted one of New York Magazine’s Top 10 Comics, the Calgary native has appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. She also had her own half-hour TV special on CTV. Shalom Life caught up with Eisenberg to talk about Nice Jewish girls Gone Bad, her debut CD and TV specials.



What drew you to comedy?


I think my family is to blame for that. Not in the sense that we sat around listening to classic comedy records or watching the stand-ups of the day, but more about the humour that filled our everyday lives. I’m from a big family, the youngest of six kids. My older brothers had children before I was even born so the immediate family was already huge before I even hit the scene. Growing up we would all gather at least once a month to celebrate birthdays, holidays, etc. A huge part of these dinner parties was trading the best jokes we’d heard and making each other laugh. I remember being old enough (maybe eight or nine) to finally tell them a joke. I think I had heard it at school or on television. I wish I could remember what the joke was, but I do remember getting a laugh. It was especially a big deal to get my older brother and father to laugh. Little did they know they started the whole problem!



Being from Calgary, what’s the comedy scene like there?


I actually don’t know much about the comedy scene in Calgary but I hear that the clubs that exist there now are excellent. I look forward to coming to play there soon!



How did Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad come about?


Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad is a concept and show created by a comedian named Susannah Perlman. She started the show seven years ago as a vehicle to showcase some great Jewish female talent and it took off like wildfire. Clearly she identified a niche market. The concept of the show, which reflects the performers’ humour, is a celebration of women who didn’t go the way of the stereotypes and traditional (and our mothers') expectations. However, you could argue, there is no more traditional job for a Jew than stand-up comedian!



What’s one of the “baddest” things you’ve ever done?


Ha! Where to begin!


I took a job opening up for Puppetry of the Penis, a show that originally started in Australia and now tours the world. The show is basically two guys fully naked who stretch and manipulate their penises into different shapes and objects, and a female comic they hire to open up for them! I didn’t know how to explain this job to my mom but I have to say – these shows were some of the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. There’s not much that will offend a crowd that’s there to see an hour of full frontal male nudity. Funnily enough, it garnered me a gig at a local synagogue! Some women from the Sisterhood were in the crowd and enjoyed it, and asked if they could hire me for their temple. It was a slightly different crowd!



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