Metro Weekly

Modi’s Mission to Entertain the Jews, the Gays, and the Goyim

Stand-up comic Modi is genuinely excited about bringing his "Know Your Audience" tour to D.C.'s Kennedy Center.

Modi -- Photo: Courtesy of Modi
Modi — Photo: Courtesy of Modi

Modi Rosenfeld, better known as simply the mono-monikered Modi, does not consider himself political. Primarily, he’s Jewish. Then gay. His role as a comedian is near the top. But political?

“100 percent not,” Modi insists. “Not at all.”

Still, the Israel-born, Long Island-raised Modi knows his way around a political arena. His turn at roasting the famous in the service of Commentary magazine is testament. During the Donald Trump administration, the guest of honor was former senator Joe Lieberman. The best line, however, was aimed at one of Lieberman’s senatorial siblings, in that period of Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s raft of Supreme Court nominations.

“We have Lindsey Graham here tonight,” Modi noted to his bejeweled and buttoned-up audience. “Sen. Graham, he loves a roast. He loves to laugh. It’s because he doesn’t take himself too seriously. You know whom else he doesn’t take too seriously? Women who have been assaulted.”

Modi spared the now recently deceased Lieberman those few years ago, and Joe apparently had a great time. When it was his turn onstage, he thanked Modi for the humor.

“I thought Modi was hilarious,” Lieberman told the ballroom of roasting revelers. “I never thought I would hear, let alone laugh at, a ‘Hitler-Goebbels-Shabbat elevator’ joke.”

Again tasked with roasting on Commentary‘s behalf, Modi took more direct aim at roastee and right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro.

“Ladies and gentlemen, what a creepy lineup of people we have here tonight,” Modi began, before wondering aloud if Shapiro was “that little Bar Mitzvah boy they put on the talk shows to annoy the other guests?”

Modi -- Photo: Courtesy of Modi
Modi — Photo: Courtesy of Modi

Then the truly roast-worthy cut: “You’ve done more for anti-Semitism than Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Epstein combined. But at least Jeffery Epstein had the decency to kill himself.”

Nevertheless, as with Lieberman, Shapiro seemed to be having a rollicking time. And for Modi, it’s not politics, just laughs.

And while D.C. is the epicenter of American politics, Modi seems genuinely excited about bringing his “Know Your Audience” tour to D.C.’s Kennedy Center, acknowledging the venue’s iconic standing in American culture.

The stop marks the winding down of Modi’s tour, which began in January, a dozen dates, coast to coast. But with his career at a seemingly upward-evolving stage, Modi wouldn’t characterize himself as exhausted by the tour in any way.

“I’m invigorated,” he says. “[The tour] has been planned so well, between Leo and my touring agent. Luckily, it’s a Jewish community, so we’re not looking for Fridays and Saturdays. We’re looking for Wednesdays and Thursdays. The venues love that. Who the hell is looking for a Wednesday night? I get to be home in between. I’m home now, which is amazing. I’m going to Cleveland tomorrow and then come back here for the weekend and then head back out again. I love it. I love it.”

Modi also loves the aforementioned Leo, who is both his husband and his producer. Partners came before producing, and the two made it official during Covid. As Modi tells it, a pandemic marriage has its perks.

“We logged on, and we had a Zoom thing with the county clerk,” he recalls of the 2020 non-event. “We showed our IDs and then we received the document. Then we were married. That was our wedding. That was it. No parties, no one had to buy a dress, no one had to buy flights, no one had to show up at some event. That was it. We digitally eloped.”

There was, however, a gift of comic material, with Modi incorporating husband Leo into his act. The punchline, essentially, is that Leo is the millennial to Modi’s Gen X sensibilities. Granted, it didn’t take a marriage to launch those particular jokes. His mother’s been in on the gag from the start of their relationship.

“The first time he came to my mother’s house, nine years ago, he saw my graduation picture,” says Modi. “My mom said to him, ‘That’s when he was your age.'”

While Modi would rather talk about family than politics, maybe add a little riff about all the frequent flier miles he’s collecting on tour — “Diamond, Platinum, Medallion, I’m killing it on the miles! Sounds like a stripper. ‘Help me welcome Diamond Platinum!'” — there’s no getting around the current state of affairs, the war in Gaza.

Aside from his roots in Israel, Modi and his husband were actually in Tel Aviv on the day of the Hamas incursion into Israel which marked the start of current hostilities. Modi tries to make a joke about staying in the same hotel as Bruno Mars at the time, grateful the superstar singer was whisked away by security, in that if the hotel was bombed with them both in it all the press coverage would go to Mars. His attempt at gallows humor seems half-hearted, leaving the impression he wishes humor could go further in healing all that’s wrong with the world.

Modi remembers a show in Long Island, seeing some women wearing hijabs among those enjoying themselves in his audience.

“They’re laughing,” he says with joy in his voice. “This is the solution. If they laugh with us, there will be peace with us. I think through laughter is the solution to everything.”

Modi brings his “Know Your Audience” tour to the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on Thursday, April 11, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 to $139. Visit

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