If the real Jon Lovitz had peeked out from behind the characters he has played, Hollywood would have seen the intellect beyond the humour: Saturday Night Live’s Chanukah Harry might have waxed poetic about Jewish morals and The Critic’s Jay Sherman could have dissected the Israeli elections.
In fact, Toronto and Ottawa audiences will see the real Lovitz during his Ontario stand-up tour – he’ll perform at Ottawa’s Centrepointe Theatre on March 20 and then visit Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre on March 22.
In an interview with The CJN, Lovitz, 52, said his solo act will show a tell-like-it-is side to his personality. “The whole act is the true me and how I think,” Lovitz says from his Los Angeles home. “I talk about everything from [actor and comedian] Bob Saget to sex.”
Audiences can expect a mix of Jewish humour and topical riffing, plus a few attacks on the hot-button issues of today such as gay marriage. But don’t come to Lovitz’s act hoping to see one-liner SNL characters such as Tommy “Yeah, that’s the ticket” Flanagan.
“I once tried doing all those SNL bits, but it just didn’t work,” Lovitz admits.
But what does work, judging by a conversation with Lovitz, is infusing the comedy with an intellect the public don’t see from the actor who appears on their television sets plugging Subway sandwiches.
When asked about his associations with the Jewish faith, Lovitz launches into a theory of how Jews may not necessarily be the Chosen People. Rather, the Jewish people chose their own path.“It’s not a race but a religion, because people can choose to be Jewish,” he says. “It’s a way of thinking, a way of respecting all living creatures.”
Lovitz says his mind has been wrestling with intriguing philosophies on religion because he’s been reading a book focusing on Jewish morality.
Wait. Jewish morality from the actor behind SNL’s The Devil and Master Thespian?
“You have to be smart to have a sense of humour,” Lovitz declares. “It’s inherent in the Jewish culture. Education is valued in our people, and so is intelligence. And to phrase truths you have to be brimming with that kind of intellect.”
The comedian is no stranger to finding the truth behind the joke, playing not just laugh-heavy roles in his 40-plus films but also more thoughtful characters, such as a baseball scout in A League of Their Own and a lingering ex-husband in I Could Never Be Your Woman. But one of the main highlights of Lovitz’s career, according to the thespian himself?
“I loved working on City Slickers II,” he says, “because I got to be with Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, some fine actors.”
These days, Lovitz isn’t diving into movie roles as he once did, instead focusing on his standup tours and planning to open his own comedy club in Los Angeles in the next few months. He also finds time to relax by playing tennis and golf.
It will be interesting to see who emerges onstage during his Toronto and Ottawa gigs – the comedian quick to deliver the one-liners and insightful theories on daily living or the chin-stroking philosopher with more than a few footnotes on Jewish history. If we’re lucky, we’ll see a combination of both.
Lovitz performs at the Centrepoint Theatre in Ottawa on March 20, and the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto on March 22. For tickets to the Toronto show, call 416-872-1212; for the Ottawa show, call 613-580-2700.