If you’re reading this on Friday the 13th – 2019 or any other one – don’t be afraid.   I don’t entirely believe in spooky things, though I love the word spooky.

Lisa Birnbach with author and comedian Jacqueline Novak

Lisa Birnbach with author and comedian Jacqueline Novak

I once went to a place called the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA.  It was the house of old mother Winchester of the rifle company, and it had oddball wings, and trap doors, and stairways going  nowhere.  It was said that the widow enjoyed seances and the paranormal, and after her mediums and fellow Ouija board enthusiasts left, she’d commission a new room or building project.  Anyway, they say there are ghosts in the house, and I think I saw one and got really scared.  But I also thought I saw a UFO on a school camping trip in the 8th or 9th grade, so I’m not trustworthy. But I am scared.

 I’m telling you this because our guest this week, the fantastically funny Jacqueline Novak, star of the off-Broadway comedy show, “Get On Your Knees” is a fan of the paranormal.  And I’m trying to win her over.

It’s time for my five things, but first a reminder to subscribe to the podcast, if you’re a listener. NOTE: If you are reading this, this is my Blog. You must SUBSCRIBE to the Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio - or wherever you get your Podcasts.  And don’t do it out of pity.  Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Celia Keenan Bolger.jpg

1. “To Kill A Mockingbird” on Broadway. Harper Lee’s quintessentially American novel has been adapted by Aaron Sorkin, and for the next few months Atticus Finch is being played by Jeff Daniels. (Ed Harris will replace him this winter.) You must put Gregory Peck out of your mind, and you can. But the giant star turn here is 9 year old Scout, played by the luminous 41 year old actress Celia Keenan-Bolger. You read that right. She runs across the stage – she careens across the stage and you believe she is the precocious child narrator. She’s a wife and mother, for God’s sake! Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s is as much a character in the play as it is in the book, and the ripe heat of long summer days is felt and felt. See it if you can. (Also, full disclosure – Celia is a dear family friend.)


2. The book tables in my lobby. We have two elevator banks and neighbors leave books they’ve finished on both of them. Sometimes you find something you’re dying to read. So now, instead of waiting until I have a big stack of books to donate to a school or shelter, I sometimes put books there too.


3. John Early dance videos.  John Early is a comedian, an actor, and a director.  He directed “Get On Your Knees,” my guest Jacqueline Novak’s off Broadway show.   My daughter, #ExhibitB ™ has over the years sent me videos of his dancing on the street.  They make me laugh when I’m in a bad mood.  Here’s one.


4. You all know how I love the Netflix show “Shtisel,” right? Is there any doubt whatsoever in anyone’s mind? I think it’s the most interesting and nuanced of dramedies I’ve seen with subtleties and textures that provoke me to think for days. Last night we went to a presentation by some of the cast and one of the creators/writers of “Shtisel.” I was excited to hear them, as all of the players come from a different world from the religious one they depict. What is the show about? Neta Riskin, who plays Gitti Weiss said – in perfect, unaccented English, by the way – “If Seinfeld was about nothing, Shtisel is about everything.” There were hints of a new season, by the way.


5. I’m going to highlight a non-profit organization this week that does great work I admire. It’s called The Student Leadership Network, and it started in 1996 -97 with a single school in East Harlem, NY, for girls serious about a college preparatory education. Now there are approximately 20 public girls’ schools across the country, as well as. Thousands more girls and boys who are helped to get into college with giant scholarships. My friends Ann and Andrew Tisch founded this remarkable foundation, and I have had the privilege of meeting their students over the years. They are inspiring young girls who take nothing – no opportunity to learn – for granted. I have volunteered at two of the New York campuses, and they make you appreciate how education is the one thing that can lift and change a life.


Jacqueline’s 5 Things:

1. Korean skin care regimen

2. Books about metaphysical weirdness 

3. Iced Americanos

4. Taking baths/naps liberally

5. Marco Polo app


Follow Jacqueline Novack.

GET ON YOUR KNEES • The Lucille Lortel Theatre in NYC until October 6, 2019



Instagram:  @jacnov

Twitter:  @jacquelinenovak