A comic who knows his way around a synagogue will perform his stand-up routine at an Oklahoma City Jewish house of worship.
Bob Alper's knowledge of Jewish religious life comes naturally: He's a rabbi.
Alper, 67, said his gift of comedy comes naturally as well.
The Vermont rabbi will perform Saturday at Emanuel Synagogue, 900 NW 47.
In a telephone interview, Alper said he was always interested in comedy but chose his career path in the 1960s when there weren't many stand-up comics.
He said he became a rabbi and enjoyed leading two congregations in the Philadelphia area over a 14-year period. And he didn't let go of his dream of becoming a comic — he just utilized his humor as a holy man.
“I used humor in every aspect of my rabbinate including funerals, although you have to be careful,” he said, chuckling.
“Weddings, teaching, sermons — sometimes you have to have humor in sermons to get people's attention.”
Alper, who holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary, said his dream of being a comic was realized in 1986 when he left the rabbinate with a goal of opening a counseling office (his wife of 42 years, Sherri, is a psychotherapist).
Alper said he never opened the counseling office because he entered the “Funniest Jew in Philadelphia” contest. He said he didn't win — he placed third behind a chiropractor and a lawyer.
However, a local television talk show host called him and said she thought he should have won. Alper said the host invited him on her show, and his stand-up comedy career was launched.
“I think it was a dream I had since I was a kid. I never thought it would happen, and then it did,” he said.
Alper's comedic talent has led to guest appearances on NBC's “Today” show, CNN, BBC, “Good Morning America,” Comedy Central, the ABC “Evening News” and Showtime. His comedy can be heard daily on Laugh USA on Sirius/XM satellite radio.
The rabbi said his humorous nature helped him as a rabbi because people tend to find funny individuals warm and approachable.
“In a very real sense I never stopped being a rabbi,” he said. “I look at comedy as a creative way of being a rabbi.”
Alper said his family supported him in his transition to comedy. He said his wife tells him when something is not funny.
His adult children are also supportive.
Of course, he said, they weren't easy to please as teens.
Alper said they labeled many of jokes unfit until they grew old enough to realize there were advantages to having a funny rabbi as a dad.
“When I started this, they didn't think I was funny,” he said. “They soon learned that when I got people to laugh that helped pay for their college tuition.”
• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Emanuel Synagogue, 900 NW 47.
• Cost: $18 in advance, $22 at the door.
• Information: 528-2113.