California native Max Rosenblum, 25, loosens up hard-working Washingtonians on a nearly nightly basis with a stand-up comedy style he describes as “optimistically pessimistic mixed with some self-deprecation.”
When the downtown D.C. resident isn’t making people laugh on stage, he produces free weekly shows and monthly special events with headlining comedians from New York City and Los Angeles, through his independent comedy production group, Last Resort Comedy.
Rosenblum attended the University of California, Davis for college and moved to D.C. in the summer of 2011, landing a job in the D.C. office of California Congressman John Garamendi (D-Solano), whose district includes UC Davis. He joined the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism one year ago, where he handles press relations and social media campaigns for the advocacy arm of the Reform movement.
Rosenblum talked with us about his work at RAC, coming up with a good story to tell for SpeakeasyDC’s My So-Called Jewish Life show and why stand-up comics like performing in D.C.
What is a typical day like at RAC?
Pitching media – op-eds, press releases, pitching reporters on certain stories and finding a way to tie it all in together so that the social media matches what we’re saying in the press and matches what we’re telling people in our emails. It’s a very cohesive environment here. We’re all working very closely with each other so a lot departments overlap and intersect constantly. It’s very much, to use the metaphor, like a beehive.
There is a stereotype of D.C. as a serious town. How do D.C. audiences react to your comedy? Is there a particular brand of humor that appeals more to D.C. audiences?
D.C.’s a very intelligent town. Most people work in politics or government or something like that and most professionals have a college education. … They definitely are smart, so I think that they respond well in general to comedy. D.C. is known, I think, from comedians, even up to someone like Louis C.K, as having some of the best crowds – the most intelligent and some of the more engaged comedy crowds.
The crowds in D.C. are very welcoming. They are very willing to head out and support local comedians, which is a huge thing that we talk about in our inner circles because none of us are really that well known. None of us have really been on TV. So they come out and they support the local comedians even though they might have never seen them before. They might not be a big name. They might not be performing at the Warner Theater, but we have a bar show and we’re funny and we’re smart and we’re working on our craft.
What was it like performing at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue for My So-Called Jewish Life? What story did you tell?
I feel very tied into the standup community, and so sometimes that overlaps with the other areas of comedy such as storytelling and improvisational comedy, and so I had met (SpeakeasyDC Executive Director) Amy Saidman through a friend who works at Sixth & I. She’s seen me perform comedy and when there was the opportunity to book this show she said, ‘Oh, how about you consider Max’. And so she reached out, we talked on the phone and she said to pitch her a couple story ideas right there, and I came up with a couple. The one that she liked the most was the one that I told, which was about how I started to pledge the AEPi fraternity at my college but then elected to not do it and the madness that ensued between that time and also how my expectations of college life changed over the course of a couple days in realizing that what I was being asked to do wasn’t really what I wanted to do.
What advice do you have for someone considering getting involved in stand-up comedy?
The more that you perform, get up on stage and gain comfort in performing and being in front of people you don’t know, the better you get at it.