By Lisa Woolfson
By night, Elliot Bromberg is a stand-up comedian. The 23-year-old University of Maryland graduate co-hosts the weekly Zoom comedy show “Witty Wednesday.” Just look for the “woke frat dude.”
Bromberg grew up in New York and Baltimore, where he was involved with Chizuk Amuno Congregation. A former McDonogh School student, he briefly attended Camp Airy and participated in the American Jewish Society for Service.
How would you describe your comedy style?
I always draw off something that actually happened in my life and go from there. I’d also say the description that I haven’t totally given myself, but other comics have told me before, is kind of like “woke frat dude.” I was in a fraternity in college and the look I give off is like, OK, this guy was clearly in a fraternity, and just trying my best to be aware of how bad my persona is and actively very much trying to fix it. That’s a short description of what I’d say my character is.
Is being Jewish part of your act?
If the set’s long enough, I do try to bring it up in one way or another. Doing stand-up is sort of selling your personality to an audience. I consider being Jewish to be pretty central to my identity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I talk about being Jewish on stage every time.
What is your Jewish background?
I grew up Conservative. I’m originally from New York City and then moved to Baltimore for high school. We kept kosher at home and everything, did the silverware, the whole shindig. Now, I live with two other Jewish guys and I have a bunch of friends down the hall, and we’ll occasionally do Shabbat together as well.
How did you get into comedy?
I went to the University of Maryland, and as a freshman I ended up joining an improv club called “The Bureau.” I did improv and sketch mainly for all of college. I started getting more interested in stand-up toward the end of my senior year.
When I graduated, I wanted to stay involved in the comedy scene and I moved to Washington, D.C. I started doing stand-up pretty much right after I moved.
Tell me about your weekly show, “Witty Wednesday.”
“Witty Wednesday” was actually started by Elani Cooper, another D.C. comedian. She started that into quarantine as a weekly open mic so people could stay fresh and, as the pandemic continued, that event grew.
Elani and I have known each other, basically, since we started doing stand-up at the same time, which was summer of 2019. I offered to help her a couple months ago and initially it was on a part-time basis, and then it just became I was helping out with every show, just co-hosting it with her. Now it’s running every other Wednesday. As some more outdoor options become available, we’re doing it a little bit less frequently.
What was it like transitioning to doing comedy over Zoom during the pandemic?
It was super weird, to be honest. At first, I sort of threw myself pretty full throttle into just doing the Zoom shows because I was like, I gotta stay fresh, just gotta stay on top of everything. Pretty soon, it became apparent that this was gonna be very different. Zoom shows are obviously not the same as a live audience. It’s a lot harder to get a read of how people are reacting to your jokes, especially because people mute their mics, people turn their videos off.
When you are live, what’s your favorite thing about performing?
When you put a lot of hours into something and then present it to other people and people enjoy it. It’s like getting an A on your final project. You go up there and you’re not always sure how it’s gonna go, and sometimes it doesn’t go great. But you engage a room and you make people laugh for five, 10 minutes — however long the set is. If you do a good set, you can completely turn around someone’s day, so that’s a good feeling.
Has your persona developed over time?
When I started doing stand-up, everything was about what it was like to be straight out of college. It has evolved into me talking about what figuring out how to be an adult is, because even though I’m 23, I often still feel like a child. I feel like I have a lot of rights that I haven’t earned or deserved yet. I feel like I talk a lot about me figuring out how to be an actual human being on my own, and I certainly anticipate as I get older that will evolve as well.
Lisa Woolfson is a freelance writer.