Lauren is a songwriter/entertainer/humorist who is a five-time recipient of the SF Cabaret Gold Award, a summa cum laude graduate of Yale, the writer/performer of customized shows for hundreds of corporate clients including Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo, and the California Funeral Directors, and the composer of several musicals and comedy albums, including her latest release, "Latkes, Shmatkes" (comedy songs for Chanukah). Despite her awards and accomplishments, Lauren's mother still doesn't understand why she didn't go to law school.
You can find more on Lauren through her website, laurenmayor.com or her youtube channel.
I'm not your old-fashioned Jewish Mother, who shovels guilt on my kids in whose lives I'm over-invested.
Singer-songwriter-humorist Lauren Mayer reflects on Hanukkah, Christmas, family, growing up a Jew in Orange County and how all this informs her own, artistic process. May you enjoy this in depth interview conducted by… herself.
What inspired you to write “Latkes, Shmatkes”?
Two years ago NPR did a program on Christmas music, and their expert was talking about how secular songs, like “Frosty The Snowman,” became classics, and then he said, “Some songs should never become classics, like this one”— and used an old recording of mine as an example. It was a novelty song I’d written and recorded years ago, “The Fruitcake That Ate New Jersey,” and when I wrote in to ask how they found it, they ended up interviewing me. I joked that now I was part of the great tradition of Jewish songwriters who create Christmas music, and I really should do a Chanukah album. Once I said it, I realized it could be a fun idea.
Thanksgiving is over, meaning the few remaining stores with some discretion have put up their decorations (joining the vast majority who started in early November), and the holiday muzak is blaring everywhere – so it’s hard for Jews not to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday, so we aren’t really going to compete with giant electric menorahs on our front yards, and it’s highly unlikely that Lifetime will air a new series of “Heartfelt Hanukkah” made-for-TV movies. And it’s particularly hard for parents – our kids are singing carols in school, making ornaments out of popsicle sticks, and hearing about their friends who anticipate scoring major gift hauls. How do we help our kids, and ourselves, feel better about this imbalance?
My political views are shaped by three important facets of my life – I’m Jewish, I’m a woman, and I have kids.
For starters, I grew up Jewish in Orange County, CA, where there were even fewer Jews than Democrats.