Please Pass the Passover
Neo-Futurists Ida Cuttler and Kurt Chiang address the holiday weekend in this week’s post. Yes, we are still performing. We’ll be pleased to have you at our home.
The Jewish holiday of Passover, also known as Pesach (pronounced Pesachhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) begins this Friday night. What does this mean? Well, it means that the Jewish families of the Jew-niverse will all gather to have Seders, the meal that opens up the week-long celebration of Passover. Much like boobies, every Seder is different, some families hurry through the prayer part to get to the food part and other families have haggadahs (Jewish prayer books) that are so long that it makes War and Peace look like a Sweet Valley Twins novel. But at the center of most Passover Seders are “The Four Questions.”
- “Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzoh, but on this night we eat only matzoh?”
- “Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?”
- “Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once, but on this night we dip them twice?”
- “Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?”
The Four Questions are asked and then answered. They are meant to get people thinking “How Is It Different” or “Why is It Different” and then explain the traditions of this holiday. The four questions are traditionally asked by the youngest member at the Seder table. This Friday, I am not going to a Seder, but I am performing in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. As the youngest member performing in TML, I think it’s only right to still ask these questions. I’m asking them of Kurt, who is not Jewish, and he’s going to answer them in any way he wants. I am curious as to how someone who was not raised with this tradition will respond to these questions, or how they’ll question these questions. I think it might result in a comedic clash of context.
Preface: Before I answer anything, let me just lay out two goals I have in answering these questions.
- Goal #1: not to offend any recognizing party of Passover, whether it be an individual or a group of people, primarily Jewish people and people of the Jewish faith.
- Goal #2: to be honest, and to tell jokes, even though I am not a comedian, and knowing that honesty probably isn’t always the best approach, especially when you’re putting something on the internet.
Furthering the preface: When I agreed to write the blog post with Ida this week, and she suggested that we could answer the four questions of Passover, I didn’t realize that they were “THE” “FOUR” “QUESTIONS.” Like, capitalized T.he F.our Q.uestions. Four questions that are all like, “Ok, listen up, you little brats. Before we eat, we’re going to sit here and look each other in the eye, and we’re going to quiz you on why we’re eating all this food. Pay attention and try to get the answers right. If you miss any, you can find the answers in the back of your bloodlines.” This is to say, I’d like it to be clear that, from my limited knowledge of Passover, I know these questions are weighted with a difficult history. They address a very specific story about fleeing from something really fucked up and walking in the desert for a long ass time. To an untrained ear, however, these questions do sound pretty weird, and I look forward to being inspired and creating some weird answers.
Further furthering the preface: Ida’s right, I am not Jewish. But my mother-in-law is, and while I’ve celebrated Jewish holidays which she has hosted (including a Seder), she has also hosted some of the banging-est Christmas celebrations I’ve ever been to, which I think gives me some license to answer The Four Questions with a little tongue in my cheek. Also I have a Jewish uncle, and him and my aunt have little half-Chinese-half-Jewish kids, and those little guys look more Jewish than anyone I know.
And one last thing: I know there has been plenty of self-reflexive blogs here that reference how busy we are and stuff, but you should really take that into account as you read. Seriously, I should be memorizing lines right now, but instead I’m just rapping about Passover. But, you know, if you’re not on the Internet, you’re nowhere, right? Plus, it’s great that company members write these. A majority of non-profit theaters in America would abuse a social media intern, with no pay. We just abuse ourselves. Anyway, what I’m getting at — I’m not going to take the extra time to edit any of this, because I have like eight meetings today.
Ok. Now that my insecurities are sufficiently laid out on the table, let’s get into The Questions.
“Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzoh, but on this night we eat only matzoh?”
I don’t know.
“Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?”
“Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once, but on this night we dip them twice?”
Why exactly “even” once? Does it not suffice to just write “dip our herbs once”? Actually, I see the difference now. But in answer to your question, I have no idea.
“Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?”
Ask the Rabbi (see what I did there?!?!?).
Great. That went way better than I thought it would. Thanks for the culture lesson, Ida.