Last Comic Standing vet at the J’s Comedy Cafe

Cory Kahaney profile
By Scott Halasz, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer

Cory Kahaney was an up-and-coming catering manager in Manhattan who had a knack for whetting an appetite during the day and tickling a funny bone on the side. But one joke led to another and the funniest woman in food became simply a funny woman.

Cory Kahaney

“You get to the point where you need to do it,” the 47-year-old Kahaney said, adding that catering started to take a back seat. Kahaney realized her meal ticket was being in front of a microphone, not a double boiler.

“If you’re going to do it, you can’t really do it as a hobby,” she said.
And Kahaney can do it.

She was a grand finalist and third runner-up on the first season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, or as Kahaney put it, the “Last Woman Standing.” She was the comedy coach on Nick at Nite’s Funniest Mom in America series and has been on Comedy Central and the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. On Nov. 5, she’ll bring her stand-up to the Boonshoft CJCE for Comedy Café at the J, part of the Dayton Jewish Cultural Arts and Book Festival.

Kahaney just finished her off-Broadway run of The J.A.P. Show and is getting ready to premiere a new show, Pastrami on Rye with Mayo.

The J.A.P. Show paid homage to the Jewish comediennes who paved the way for today’s generation of comics like Kahaney. Pastrami on Rye with Mayo premieres the day after her Dayton gig, in Palm Beach. It’s the story of four people working the Catskills “long after the party’s over.”

The name of the show says it’s all.

“If you get that joke, then the show was made for you,” Kahaney said. “If you didn’t get that joke, then it’s still a good sandwich.”

Joking aside, which is tough for Kahaney, it features true experiences of Catskills comics, war stories from working the road, broken dreams, etc.

The words “true experiences” seem to be a common theme for comics when doing their shtick.

“Everything has to have at least a grain of truth,” she said. “Most stuff really happens. I’m like, ‘that’s really funny, let’s build on that.’”

An example is when Kahaney received a birthday text from her sister.

“No card, no phone call,” Kahaney said. “I don’t even think she typed the words happy birthday. She forwarded one she got. She re-gifted a text. How do you re-gift a text? Are you that lazy? I took the pathetic-ness of getting a text for my birthday and turned it into a joke.”

Even her own downfall on Last Comic Standing became a joke — and educational as well.
“If you don’t vote, the right people don’t win,” Kahaney said. “Everyone said, ‘You were the best.’ I said, ‘Did you vote for me?’ They said, ‘no.’”

While halfheartedly bemoaning that her parents voted just once, Kahaney found a way to poke fun at her in-laws, who did more than their share to try and help her win.

“They voted like 50 times,” she said. “They were so nervous because the voting was supposed to end (early). My mother-in-law said (in a whisper), ‘we voted until 11.’ Like they put me over the edge. Wow, those extra eight calls.”

Kahaney is able to turn anything into a joke; nothing is off limits, not even family. She has a 24-year-old daughter from a previous marriage and a 5-year-old son from her current marriage. That’s fodder for many a tale.

“I’m the poor schlemiel who is paying for college and private preschool at the same time,” Kahaney said. “That’s why I’m coming to Dayton, because I need to pay these tuitions.”

In reality, Kahaney said she has “quite the rapport” with Jewish crowds and loves performing stand-up at JCCs and for Jewish groups. She says she does stand-up five nights a week.

“Laughter is the best medicine. Given our health-care crisis, it’s important that I work.”

Comedy Café at the J with comedian Cory Kahaney, Thursday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m. at the Boonshoft CJCE, 525 Versailles Dr., Centerville. Presented by the DJCC Dayton Jewish Cultural Arts and Book Festival in partnership with the Dayton Chapter of Hadassah. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door. Call 853-0372 or go to

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