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Robert Klein Performing At Briarcliff Synagogue

Robert Klein
Robert Klein Photo Credit: Contributed

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- After more than 50 years on stage, Robert Klein can still make them laugh.

The comedian, who lives in Briarcliff, is presenting "An Evening With Robert Klein" at Congregations Sons Of Israel at 1666 Pleasantville Road in Briarcliff on Sunday, April 2 at 8 p.m.

This has been a banner year for Klein, who will also be at The Picture House in Pelham on March 29, to discuss his new documentary "Robert Klein Still Can't Stop His Leg," which looks at his life and career, with interviews with comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart who have been influenced by his work.

"It will be hilarious," Klein said of his upcoming Briarcliff show. "I've been talking about being Jewish for 52 years. It should be a good show. I’m still sharp.

Klein, who is currently in Florida for a run of performances, said he has no intentions of slowing down, but he feels most comfortable when he's at home in Briarcliff.

"I really enjoy the simple things," Klein said. "I have a beautiful view and I love to sit and read the paper. Though I don't like reading it as much since the election."

The comedian doesn't remember if he's ever performed at a synagogue before, though being Jewish has always been a big part of his act.

"I'm not an observant Jew, but I'm a Jew through and through," Klein said. "When I went to college, I faced a lot of antisemitism, so I talk about it. The president of the university asked me recently why do I say such things? Because it happened."

When he attended Alfred University, fraternities were allowed to discriminate against Jews and he remembers playing Shylock from "The Merchant of Venice" in front of an antisemitic crowd. Klein thinks the discrimination Jews led to their sense of humor.

"There are so many Jewish comedians," Klein said. "The cultures that particularly depend on humor are some of the most oppressed cultures. Jews are overrepresented in psychiatry and comedy but underrepresented in the priesthood."

Klein came from a funny family. His father, a textile salesman, was known for his sense of humor.

"He never occurred to him that he could be a comedian," Klein said. "He was an excellent improviser- he could make up songs and make up stories, he was hysterical, a real clown. Sometimes it was to my annoyance. He could frustrate me, I would ask for something and he would turn my request into a joke."

Klein's son, Allie, has also recently entered the family business after years working at Riverkeeper in Ossining. Klein moved up to Briarcliff 25 years ago, originally living on Sleepy Hollow Road. After a divorce, he moved to his current home, where he has a view of the Hudson River.

"I just love it here," Klein said. "I never want to leave."

Klein said he enjoys the small-town feel of where he lives. He buys groceries at the Stop and Shop (though he wishes they had better rye bread) and he knows the names of many of the local merchants. He did an episode of "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" with Seinfeld at the Landmark Diner in Ossining.

"I love to walk outside and breath the fresh air," Klein said. "I recycle, I'm a good neighbor- I take care of my land. I pay a huge bundle in taxes, but I get to live in a beautiful area."

For more information on the show, visit http://www.csibriarcliff.org/robertklein/

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