A few comedians walk into a bar \u2014 OK, so maybe it\u2019s a Jewish Community Center \u2014 and take turns at the microphone telling jokes about family. Their families. Your family. Everyone\u2019s family. What\u2019s more universal than wacky relatives and their caricatures, right? \u201cWhen I talk about myself, I\u2019m mostly talking about the foibles of the culture that I come from,\u201d says Steve Bennett, a native of Minnesota and one of six comedians slated to perform at the JCC in Sherman on Saturday, April 6 for \u201cLaugh Out Loud Comedy Night.\u201d And by foibles, Bennett means serving lime Jell-O with chunks of elbow \u2014 not fruit cocktail, not diced apples, just bits of the aforementioned elbow \u2014 for a rather wretched dessert. But whatever you do next, please don\u2019t offend the host. And definitely don\u2019t spit out the recipe roadkill in your napkin. \u201cMinnesotans are polite to a fault,\u201d says Bennett, a self-described rookie comedian at 61 who practices law by day and hits the open-mic circuit by night. \u201cIf you\u2019re a Minnesotan, you don\u2019t try the Jello-O and go, \u2018That\u2019s disgusting! What\u2019s wrong with you?\u2019 Instead, you take this tiny, little bite and go, \u2018Oh, that\u2019s different.\u2019\u201d Different, indeed. Comedy nights have become annual staples at Jewish institutions in Connecticut, from temples across Fairfield and Litchfield counties to JCCs in Sherman, Stamford and Greater New Haven. In fact, the JCC of Greater New Haven will hold its 13th annual Comedy Deli Night the same night as the Sherman show. Meanwhile, Temple Beth Elohim in Brewster, N.Y., which draws many of its members from Connecticut, sponsored its 26th annual Comedy Night last November. These comedy shows have become one part fundraiser, one part community builder \u2014 nights to strengthen temple and JCC communities as well as the community at large. The programs bring people together to promote inclusion, diversity, and if you\u2019re really lucky, the kind of jokes that make you snort like Ralphie\u2019s kid brother eating mashed potatoes in \u201cA Christmas Story.\u201d Mike Calcagno, a Long Island native who has opened for the likes of Kevin James, Ben Bailey and Nick Di Paolo, also will perform at the JCC in Sherman. He\u2019s been doing standup comedy for the last five years. Calcagno loves his job, but admits the craft can be all-consuming. \u201cI was always funny with my friends growing up. But when I first tried standup, I wasn\u2019t funny,\u201d he says. \u201cI hit a wall. I knew right away \u2014 ah, [insert colorful language here] \u2014 this is going to be really hard, but I\u2019ve kept at it.\u201d Along the way, Calcagno started his own production company, Laugh Track Films. In addition to working with Saturday Night Live alumnus Jim Breuer on sketches \u2014 remember Goat Boy? \u2014 Calcagno works with his father on a series called CalcagKNOWS, where the two men try to answer impossible questions without using the Internet. It\u2019s a good place to visit on YouTube if you\u2019ve ever wondered, \u201cWhy do horsepower and torque cross at 5252 rpm?\u201d Like Bennett, Calcagno finds humor at home. \u201cI talk about my family and my fianc\u00e9e a lot \u2014 my dad, my mom, aunts and uncles, everyone,\u201d explains Calcagno, 28. \u201cMy future wife is half-Jewish. Her family is very similar to mine. It doesn\u2019t matter whether you\u2019re Italian, Jewish, whatever. The jokes are still relatable.\u201d For Jessica Saul, a 25-year-old comedian who grew up in Florida before moving to New York, the punchlines come from her experiences dating and working in the big city. \u201cI\u2019m not really a storyteller. I\u2019m more of a quirky Jewish girl who has something to say,\u201d notes Saul, who has been collecting open-mic appearances, and more and more paid gigs, for the last two years. \u201cMy standup is really a lot of character-based stuff and voices.\u201d Some of Saul\u2019s impersonations include celebrity chef Paula Deen, actress Jennifer Lawrence, comedian Sarah Silverman, and of course, her mom \u2014 just maybe her go-to source for material. \u201cThe suffering and the stereotypes are real,\u201d Saul says. \u201cBeing raised by a Jewish mother either leads you to insanity or some kind of outlet. For me, it\u2019s comedy. \u201cThe thing is, we\u2019re not really a big religious family. Not at all. Probably the most Jewish thing about us is that we eat bagels.\u201d Along with Bennett, Calcagno and Saul, the \u201cLaugh Out Loud Comedy Night\u201d in Sherman will feature standup comics Matt Carter, Youngmi Mayer and Ed Prokopski. Ultimately, Bennett believes, standup comedy is an important form of self-expression. \u201cI heard a person say you\u2019re playing a character on stage. And you are. You\u2019re playing yourself,\u201d Bennett says. \u201cThe idea with standup is you take who you are and then you amp it up a little bit. You make it bigger \u2014 not totally exaggerated, but bigger \u2014 and that makes it easier to see the elements of your character. And then, of course, you have to be funny.\u201d The rest will take care of itself. Just don\u2019t spit out the lime Jell-O in your napkin. Brian Koonz is a freelance writer and former reporter, editor and columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.