Kasher in the Rye

Onstage, the celebrated stand-up comic Moshe Kasher is self-assured, commanding, and blazing with intelligence. So accomplished (and justly celebrated) is he as a comedian that it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the juvenile delinquent author-narrator of Kasher in the Rye, his 2012 recovery memoir, with the smooth-talking raconteur in performance. Can this really be Kasher’s childhood? Two deaf parents, kleptomania, alcohol and drug addiction by 14, stints in the “retard” school, and a panoply of violent behavioral issues abetted by a gang of violent childhood friends from Oakland. Back then he was “Mark.” And thanks to a book, a certain book by J.R. Salinger, he became “Moshe,” and he became whole. His horrible-beautiful upbringing, handled with tremendous wit and insight, somehow makes cruelty and suffering seem laugh-out-loud funny.

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