Meet Jewish Person Of The Week – Mac Cherny
Let’s Meet Jewish Person Of The Week – Mac Cherny
Where did you grow up?
West Hartford, CT.
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Connecticut. I got a B.A. in Theatre Studies and a Minor in the Puppet Arts. U Conn are world class in basketball and puppetry! I was horrible at making puppets, but loved writing the scripts for the shows.
What did you do Jewish growing up?
I have been a theatre nerd my entire life and it all started at my local JCC. At the JCC, I learned how to swim, worked at summer camp, and eventually served as director for the Theater Camp. At the age of 16, this community center also gave me my own student run directing program which taught me exactly what I was capable of.
Also, I did the typical Hebrew School to Bar Mitzvah track, and my family also had a mandatory Shabbat dinner every Friday. We had to be there but we could invite anyone we wanted. My mom’s side of the family is Israeli so that comes with a lot of fun and tradition.
What do you do for work?
I work as the Director of Operations for BNI Chicago. Also, I work on creating my own shows and content. I am in the position I am today in Chicago because I had someone from a young age pushing me to create my own path. I realized very quickly that what I was the most passionate is when I am creating something on my own.
What do you do for fun/to relax?
For fun I love to run. Running is what levels me out, it’s where I am the most creative and it is a nice sedative for my spunky personality. I also love to cook. I am officially turning into my mother, inviting mass amounts of people over to cook very large meals for everyone. Lastly, I love going out dancing. It’s greatest self-care thing for anyone to do. I worked as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah dancer for 6 years and I got to experience this joy on a weekly basis.
What do you do Jewish now?
Unfortunately right now I really just do the holidays and some periodic Shabbats. A comedy career schedule is not forgiving. However! I do throw an annual latke party. I went through three bags of potatoes during the last one!
What is your favorite way to spend shabbat?
At home with my family. No one throws a Shabbat like my mom. All of my non-Jewish friends bring up their experiences growing up in my house and doing Friday night dinners with us. It was a very special experience.
Top three things on your Chicago bucket list?
Chicago boat tour, make a friend with a boat and go to the Shed Aquarium!
What is your favorite Jewish Chicago event?
Miracles happen on Hanukkah. Two years ago, I was going through a difficult breakup and was just starting to dip into the comedy community. Everyday during the 8 days of Hanukkah 2017, something amazing happened.
Night 1: Coming home late from a comedy show, I was sad and alone and all I wanted to do was light candles. Then, at the Damen stop, a bunch of hasidic Jews approached me with a Hanukkah kit.
Night 2: Second City Training Center offered me a month long contract for the Merriam musical.
Night 3-8: Everything began to fall into place.
Who is Merriam Levkowitz?
I dress in drag when I perform as Merriam. She is a culmination of the community I grew up with in West Hartford Connecticut. There are also little pieces of my mother, along with 3-4 other women. I do not have the voice of Josh Groban, so I when was working on a show called Gypsy in the Berkshires, and there was a weekly Caberet, I knew my way of sticking out was through comedy. During the downtime of tech week, the crew and I started talking like Bubbe’s. I continued with the shtick after the production wrapped and decided to expand my Bubbe version of “Proud Mary”, “Proud Meri” into a full show. First produced at the Sea Tea Comedy Theatre, our weekend run oversold all of the standing room. It was incredible. This show is love letter to the community I grew up in.
The Drag Musical Just in Time for Passover
An intergenerational Event from the Jewish community & Queer community. Miriam is preparing for her upcoming Passover seder, and she takes the audience through the lives of her three children. Only an hour long, this show is a Matzah Ballin’ good time. So much of my upbringing was the emphasis on community and values in Jewish life. For me, it is not only about positive exposure to the Jewish community, we also tackle things like racism, homophobia. I have been doing this show in the East Coast and all over Chicago for hundreds of people from different backgrounds and everyone can relate and laugh together.