Now I know what “going viral” really means. My dear friend, Gabrielle Birkner, who I met in college at Northwestern, once told me in passing that Paul Rudd deejayed her bat mitzvah back in 1992 before he was a star. I didn’t think much of it (in fact I thought she was kidding) until this video landed at my computer yesterday afternoon, sent to me by a friend of mine who doesn’t even know Gabi, who is now a sophisticated web editor at “The Jewish Daily Forward” in Manhattan. The video is everywhere, all over the web, on Perez Hilton, on MTV, and Gabi and Paul even made it onto Jon Stewart last night. Last summer, I had the honor of standing up in Gabi’s wedding but, alas, our “Clueless” friend did not deejay. Pictured below is Gabi dancing—this time as a bride—and in a much less poufy dress—the hora with some cute little kid and me. Enjoy the retro ride back to Gabi’s bat mitzvah!
By Gabrielle Birkner
Before Paul Rudd broke into television and movies, the “Dinner for Schmucks” star was working the bar and bat mitzvah circuit in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. He emceed my bat mitzvah party, back in 1992 — months before landing a recurring role on the NBC drama “Sisters.” (“Clueless” was still a few years off.)
The soft-spoken aspiring actor whom my mom and I met on the hunt for bat mitzvah DJs — I took an immediate liking to Rudd — turned out to be the perfect choice for the event. Rudd, donning a yellow tuxedo jacket, a ruffled shirt, shorts and Doc Martens, ably and energetically led us through all of the bat mitzvah staples: candle-lighting, Coke & Pepsi, toasts, limbo, “Hands Up,” challah-cutting and “YMCA.” And as the “Today” show-themed bat mitzvah party came to a close, he invited my friends onto the dance floor to sing a moving rendition of “That’s What Friends Are For.”
He’s come a long way, to be sure. The movie “Dinner for Schmucks” — in which Rudd stars alongside Steve Carrell — opened last weekend to a bevy of rave reviews. So I thought it would be a fitting time to share some footage of Rudd holding court at my bat mitzvah. That’s me, in the pink dress that I wrote about here, seeming to take the limbo way too seriously.
A big thanks to “Cousin Freya” for sending me the footage, and Nate Lavey for editing it down.