When you think about taking in an evening of comedy, a house of worship may not be where you’d think to go.
Congregation Har Shalom is about to change that when comedian Keith Barany takes the stage there Thursday night.
Raised in the New York area and currently based in Utah, Barany has been doing stand-up for almost 34 years. He’s worked with everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Joan Rivers and has written for television shows such as “The Jimmy Kimmel Show” and “Seinfeld” as well.
So why perform in Durango?
It was his idea, Barany said. Barany, who books his own shows, said that despite working with big names in the industry, “I reject the fame and hype and promotion machinery – I always have. I’m really not interested in the part of comedy where you’re so insulated from your audience you can’t stand at the exit afterwards and chat with people about the common experience you just had.”
And the common experience that will be had on Thursday night is for everyone, he said.
In the current social climate, comedy – and comedians – are important, Barany said.
“I think there’s probably more than one reason why it’s important – more than one type of primary reason. Let me speak for myself first: The reason comedy is important for me is that it’s getting harder and harder to get certain types of people to hear the truth. Comedy works under the radar,” he said. “Comedy has been since the absolute beginning – from the court jester days, from the Shakespearean fool days – it’s always been ‘here’s the one dude that we’re gonna let say whatever he wants.’”
Beyond that, Barany said, people are looking for release.
“Folks come out for the catharsis and they come out for the community,” he said. “That’s been a really recent lesson for me after 30-plus years of being a stand-up, is that a big part of why people laugh is because they want to feel less alone.”