Natasha Leggero gets BIG laughs at UJA’s BIG event

Natasha Leggero at UJA's BIG Event on Nov. 28 LIORA KOGAN PHOTO
Natasha Leggero at UJA's BIG Event on Nov. 28 LIORA KOGAN PHOTO

TORONTO – Hundreds of young professionals arrived for UJA’s annual BIG Event on Nov. 28, hosted this year by standup comedian, writer, and actress Natasha Leggero of Comedy Central Roast fame.

Before the reception, Avi Kerbel, the co-chair of UJA’s Ben-Gurion Society (BGS), welcomed attendees and outlined various ways in becoming a BGS donor and UJA supporter.

“The Ben-Gurion Society recognizes the efforts of young philanthropists in Toronto who are under 40, and donating $1,000 or more to UJA’s campaign,” said Kerbel, noting that BGS raised over a million dollars in 2014, and are en route to exceeding that figure this year.

After Kerbel’s introduction, co-chairs of the BIG Event Blair Bernholtz and Matthew Nisker both spoke to the sold-out hall.

“Just to be clear, this is not a fundraiser, you did not need to be a donor to UJA Federation to attend,” said Bernholtz. “Events like this not only entertain you all, but it helps raise awareness for the cause, which hopefully creates more donors, which, logically, helps us help more people in need.”

“For many reasons, we are blessed to live here in Toronto,” added UJA Young Leaders co-chair Jamie Davis. “We lead lives of privilege and relative safety that very few people around the world ever get to experience. We live in a free and prosperous country with values that align with our Jewish heritage. We can be who and what we want to be – to be active, engaged, and proud Jews.”

Davis, and co-chair Evan Pilz, emphasized the connection between young Canadian Jews and Israel, reminding the audience of their inherent responsibilities to both future and past generations. “It is up to us all to make a commitment to ensure that our community here, and around the world, continues to thrive”, said Pilz.

As the concluding act, Leggero performed her standup routine for forty-five minutes. She was quickly able to coax the crowd into hysterics as she self-deprecatingly made fun of her recent conversion to Judaism. Leggero utilized her roasting and matchmaking skills as she called up onto the stage various members of the crowd. In true Leggero style, her act was filled with crudeness, political incorrectness, and a comedic frankness much to the delight of the audience.

Leggero’s act segued into the rest of the evening as guests prepared to meet each other in the adjoining room. The after-party capped the night off and offered an open bar while KISS 92.5’s own DJ Clymaxxx provided the music. Leggero made herself available during the reception, as she fielded questions and concerns from attendees.