Summer Means It's Hot & Shticky at Temple Sholom in Fanwood

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Charlie Bernstein (left) and Adam Wachtel get on-stage experience. Credits: Alex Bernstein
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SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD NJ -- Temple Sholom (74 S. Martine Ave.) is inviting local teens to “Hot and Shticky,” a series of informal improv and stand-up comedy workshops on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. led by comedian Alex Bernstein and friends. 

“You'll have fun with friends and perform fast and funny feats of controlled comedy chaos,” said Bernstein, who does stand-up (for adults) at the temple and in the New York and New Jersey area.  

No previous comedy experience is required, and non-congregants are welcome.

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“Teens are incredibly good at comedy. They're flexible, willing to take risks, and tremendously supportive of one another," said Bernstein, who has taught improv and stand-up comedy at Temple Sholom to more than 70 kids from fifth to 10th grade since 2010.

"For actors and performers, improv is a great way to let loose and get creative in ways they may not be able to do in a traditional play or musical. It is also a huge asset that those kids will be able to add to their acting toolbox,” Bernstein added. “For non-performers, it's simply a tremendously fun way to spend an evening."

In 2010, when Bernstein’s son was in third grade at Temple Sholom, his teacher didn't show up, and the director of education at the time, Michelle Shapiro Abraham, asked him to sub on the fly. He became a regular sub, and later Abraham approached him about teaching basketball or web marketing to teens on Sunday nights. 

Instead, Bernstein suggested stand-up comedy.

“She looked at me like I was from another planet.  ‘Do people teach stand-up?’," she said. 

The first year of the stand-up group was incredibly successful, and the class has grown to include improv.  Turnout for the Sunday morning program ("Kesher") averages about 20 kids a class.

"Every workshop starts with a pledge (that we make up, week-to-week) that essentially says 'I pledge to put myself out there, and make a complete fool out of myself.' So, we create a highly fun atmosphere right from the get-go," said Adam Wachtel. "I love doing comedy.”

The cost for “Hot & Shticky” teen class at Temple Sholom is $18 for the entire summer. Contact abernstein1@comcast.net.  Use the temple’s side door on Marian Avenue marked “Temple Sholom.”

Temple Sholom is located at 74 S. Martine Ave., Fanwood, NJ 07023. (908) 889-4900. www.sholomnj.org

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