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Benji Rothman

Zev Permack

Jordan Billinkoff


By Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng., June 10, 2010

A crowd of about 200 was privileged to be at the most hysterical event in Winnipeg in a long time. This hilarious comedy hypnosis event was held at the Park Theatre on Wednesday, June 2, 2010. “Zev Permack is The Show…Featuring Benji Rothman,” showcased three young talented men, 19-year-old Zev Permack, 20-year-old Jordan Billinkoff and 22-year-old Benji Rothman.

Comic, Benji Rothman, a student at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business, opened the show with a standup routine in which he poked fun at everyday things like family, drugs, dating, Winnipeg, and Jews vs. Gentiles.

“Another thing I don’t like about Winnipeg is cruise night, “Rothman joked. “It has to be the stupidest idea in any city. I’ve never really understood cruise night. Jewish people don’t really do cruise night. It’s more of a Gentile thing. We let the nice cars sit in the garage and we sit inside and we talk about other Jews. That’s what we do. Gentiles have cruise night, we have schmooze night. They have cruise night. We actually go on a cruise in the Caribbean.”

He continued to generate laughter from his jokes about Jewish stereotypes and the social networking site Facebook.

“Now you have Facebook mobile so you can update your status wherever you go,” Rothman said. “Just in case I need to know what everyone is doing at any moment in the day. So instead of talking face to face, I can write ‘I just ran into Jenny at the mall. OMG. FML. TCBY.”

Lastly he found amusement in his own family life situation. Explaining that his parents were divorced when he was very young and both have since remarried, he joked, “I used to think that all families were like mine. I’d go to A & W (and order). ‘Yah, I’ll get the step-Mama Burger with extra neglect, if that’s possible? Abusive Uncle Burger, that’s sirloin right?’ No wonder the Teen Burger has self esteem issues and a drug problem.”

Following Rothman’s headline act, Zev Permack performed the greatest display of hypnotism since Reveen the Impossibilist visited Winnipeg.  Permack, a University of Winnipeg psychology student, has been performing hypnosis since the age of 15.

Through the power of suggestion and imagination, he had several volunteer participants playing their favourite orchestra instruments, dancing in a Congo line, and getting annoyed with an incompetent fast food restaurant employee.
From nine original volunteers, the participants eventually dwindled down to a comical trio. Permack was lucky to be left with such an amusing and agreeable bunch of sidekicks.

One was led to believe that he was the greatest hypnotist in the world and that Permack was actually a fake. Another believed that he was a great actor auditioning for a new energy drink commercial. He was told to take a taste of the drink and repeat a line, but he also was told that the drink would taste terrible and that he would be unable to repeat the lines correctly. So, no matter how many times this “great actor” tried, he stumbled over the line and spat out the drink. The third participant was given the suggestion that he had lost his imagination, and he roamed the audience in search of the person who had “stolen it.”

The funniest part of the show involved Permack telling a participant that every time he heard the words, “How’s everybody feeling tonight?” he should stand up and loudly shout, “I am not hypnotized”. Of course, Permack made sure to ask  “How’s everybody feeling tonight?” several times during the show.

In addition to Permack and Rothman’s routines, Jordan Billinkoff showed three short digital videos that he produced with his company, Billinkoff’s Productions.  The first was a funny Starsky and Hutch-like tale called “Peg City Undercover,” the second was a promotional video for Permack, and the third was an endorsement for the second annual Kendra’s Walk in support of the Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation for Teens Living with Cancer. All three were highly professional and entertaining and can be found at ,, and Billinkoff also did the marketing and production for the evening’s event.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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