Avi Hoffman is a versatile stage, film and television actor who has perhaps done more to popularize Yiddish music and humor than any other performer. “Too Jewish” was a hit one-man show about his upbringing in the world of Yiddish theater. The sequel, “Too Jewish Too!” followed the story of the second generation of performers as they created American Jewish comedy. Both musicals ran all over the country and were broadcast on public television. Hoffman returns next week in the third and final installment of the trilogy, “Still Jewish After All These Years: A Life in the Theater.”
Q: Did you always know that this was going to be a trilogy?
A: No, but I knew that if I did do a third one, I would use this title. This show is more autobiographical than the other two. After 42 years in the business, I have a lot of really cool stories and a lot of great material that I’ve come across.
What will we learn about you from this show?
Well, I’ve never talked before about the fact that I spent my teen years in Israel. I was actually quite famous on Israeli television in the ‘70s. The new show has a tribute to my Jewish rock-and-roll roots in Israel, when I was listening to Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan — Jewish guys who wrote music for a whole generation. After I came back to New York, I was a rocker in the Village for a while.
So are you still “too Jewish”?
When I was doing rock and roll, I did think about changing my name to Teddy Wayne, which was my character’s name on “Law & Order,” and starting a new career as a goyish actor. But then I got involved in one groundbreaking Yiddish production after another, from “The Golden Land” to “The Rise of David Levinsky” to “Songs of Paradise.” And then I was one of the first to do one-man shows about the Jewish experience. A lot of performers have followed in my footsteps.
What age group will most enjoy your new show?
My shows are all family-friendly. I love to see grandparents bring their children and grandchildren. All three generations bring something different to the table; the grandparents are nostalgic, the children remember their childhood and the grandchildren experience it as all new. I’m bringing things back to life that were lost.
Is it helpful to have seen the first two shows in order to enjoy the third?
No, each stands on its own. But I’m hoping that next year I can do all three shows in repertory in Manhattan, which would be a first for a one-person show. It would be like Alan Ayckbourn’s “The Norman Conquests.” Who needs Norman?
“Still Jewish After All These Years” runs at the Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Performances are Thursday, March 25 at 2 p.m.; Saturday, March 27 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 28 at 3 p.m. For tickets, $31-37, call the box office at (718) 760-0064 or visit www.queenstheatre.org.