Screenshot from "Jewish Matchmaking" of Stuart Chaseman (left) on a date with Pamela Schuller.
Screenshot from "Jewish Matchmaking" of Stuart Chaseman (left) on a date with Pamela Schuller.

Q&A: Meet Pamela Schuller, the comedian with Tourette’s on ‘Jewish Matchmaking’

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Those of you who watched “Jewish Matchmaking” on Netflix may remember Pamela Schuller from her date with Stuart, the musician from Chicago, in the final episode. But she’s famous and accomplished besides that. She’s a New York City-based comedian, disability advocate and speaker who performs worldwide.

On the latest episode of The Bagel Report, we chatted with the quirky 37-year-old comedian about what it was like working with matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom. This interview has been edited and condensed. You can listen to the full conversation here or wherever you get your podcasts.

THE BAGELS: How did “Jewish Matchmaking” find you?

Pamela Schuller: About seven years ago I was doing a [standup] show in LA, and Aleeza [Ben Shalom], who is the matchmaker, was in the audience, and she ran up to me after the show and she was like, I’m a matchmaker. I’d love to match you. And I laughed at her. I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t on my radar. I was career focused.

I talk openly about having Tourette Syndrome, and I think the timeline of loving Tourette’s was different than the timeline of dating with Tourette’s, and so that took me a little longer. I truly laughed at her. And six years later, she messaged me and was like, Are you dating now? And I was like, Yes, now I am. And she was like, Cool. I’m working on this thing.

If Aleeza hadn’t been like, I want to match you, I don’t know that this would have ever been on my radar.

Did you have any fears or hesitations going in?

I’m an open book on stage — I perform for a living — but my dating life hasn’t really been something I’ve talked about a bunch on stage. My family didn’t know much about my dating life. And so it felt a little scary to really put myself out there and date on camera.

Listen to “‘Jewish Matchmaking’ and Jewish Geography with Comedian Pamela Schuller” on Spreaker.

How did you feel watching yourself on screen?

As I was watching, I can see my Tourette’s [tics] on a date. I’ve never been across from me on a date, and that was a new thing I had to deal with.

When I watched it, I was authentically me. I think in most aspects of my life, I try very hard to just be authentically me, which is, you know, awkward and quirky and all of the things. But when it aired, they have to cut it down, and so I think you saw a connection, a friendship connection, that we weren’t totally sure about yet. But we had a great time, so I think that was pretty accurate.

I do think [the show] did a beautiful job at portraying that we all experience and participate in Judaism differently. And we all bring different things to relationships, like having Tourette’s and being 4-foot-6 and a little obsessive compulsive disorder, but also funny and inappropriate and loud and quirky. We’re all bringing all of these things, and I think that was really beautifully shown.

What was it like working with Aleeza?

What you see on TV is so real. She’s wonderful. She is kind and sweet and understanding and like a cheerleader. I feel like she’s part of the reason why I felt comfortable because she was like, just go be adorable, be you, be funny — just don’t say all the bad words.

We had a few phone calls leading up to [the date with Stuart]. She gave me very minimal information [about him]. She gave me bits of information that would just get me excited to meet someone. And we had a lot of conversations about like, if this isn’t a match, I can’t wait to work with you. You’re putting yourself out there and so there’s more of a chance to find the right match. I’m still talking to Aleeza regularly. [Note: Stuart posted on his Instagram account that today he and Pam are just friends.]

Comedian Pamela Schuller goes on a date with Stuart in an episode of "Jewish Matchmaking." (Photo/Courtesy Schuller)
Pamela Schuller (Photo/Courtesy)

Had you worked with a matchmaker prior to going on the show?

It had never occurred to me to work with a matchmaker. I’m an expert in very few things, and I’m certainly not an expert in dating. I started it late in the game. I wasn’t an expert in working out, I’m still not, but I hired a trainer. When I wanted to feel healthier, I hired a dietician. So in all these other aspects of my life, it made total sense. I don’t know why it never occurred to me [to hire a matchmaker].

I think there’s something beautiful in admitting that we don’t know everything and it’s OK to ask for help. When communities want to work to do more with inclusion and mental health, they hire me. When communities are looking to put on a comedy show and find some laughter, they hire me. And so I think that’s part of what makes the world beautiful, that we don’t all do everything.

What kind of responses have you received to your appearance on “Jewish Matchmaking?”

My phone and social media were blowing up for a few days, which was really fun. Someone I did a show with in a random part of the country was like, I was watching Netflix, and then you were on my screen! And it’s opened a lot of conversations about disabilities and dating and diversity, which I don’t think we see enough of.

Erin Ben-Moche and Esther D. Kustanowitz
The Bagels

Erin Ben-Moche and Esther D. Kustanowitz are the hosts of The Bagel Report, an award-winning podcast about Jewish representation and identity in pop culture, produced by J. The Jewish News of Northern California in partnership with Jewfolk, Inc. New episodes are available on (most) Mondays on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.