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If Your Name Is Josh Cohen, You Probably Think 'The Other Josh Cohen' Is About You

Feb 10, 2019
Originally published on February 10, 2019 11:44 am

A group of guys from around the country all named Josh Cohen recently got together to watch a matinee of The Other Josh Cohen in New York City.

The musical speaks to a lot of people, but perhaps these guys more than others.

There's Josh Cohen from Mahopac, N.Y.; Joshua A. Cohen from Las Vegas; Joshua C. Cohen from Los Angeles; Josh N. Cohen from Brooklyn; and Joshua H. Cohen from Manhattan.

All of the guys connected on Facebook after Joshua A. Cohen couldn't find his own profile one day because of all the other Josh Cohens out there. It's basically the John Smith of Judaism. To coordinate, he created a Facebook group: The Josh Cohen Club.

"We're trying to form humanity's first super Josh Cohen," Joshua A. Cohen jokes.

Most of the Joshes were tickled to learn about a hit show that shares their name. Except Joshua H. Cohen — he was a little suspicious when he first heard about the show.

"There are certain rhymes between the story of the show and my actual life," Joshua H. Cohen says.

Joshua H. Cohen is a talented writer. So is the one in the play. They both went to New York University. They both have a great-grandfather named Samuel, who gets a song in the play. And there's more.

"The Josh Cohen in the musical winds up with — after a long drought of dating — a music teacher named Diane. My wife, who I met after a long dating drought, is a music teacher named Anne," Joshua H. Cohen says.

There was reason to be suspicious. Joshua H. Cohen had gone to summer camp with both of show's writers, Steve Rosen and David Rossmer.

"He was in my bunk," Rosen says.

But it doesn't end there.

"When we first started the show, we got a call from a friend from summer camp where Steve and I met," Rossmer says. "He says, 'I just wanted to ask you why you wrote a musical about me without telling me.' "

That caller wasn't Joshua H. Cohen. It was yet another Josh Cohen, who also went to camp with them. Rossmer and Rosen reassured the caller the show wasn't about him.

"I said, 'Josh, you're an acquaintance. We like you, but I don't know you that well. Of course we would never write a musical about you and not tell you,' " Rossmer says.

After thinking about it, Joshua H. Cohen realized the same. He now gives the musical an unqualified endorsement — and really, who is more qualified to endorse it?

"I loved the show. It was true to life in every way," Joshua H. Cohen says.

"The show is like a horoscope, and anyone who reads it thinks it relates to them," Rossmer says. "That's just great. I think it's great."

We all want to feel like our story is special, unique. Maybe it's not — and maybe that's OK. Because that also means no matter how broke you are or broken you feel, you're really not alone. It just takes getting a musical named after you — or maybe not — to realize it.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

"The Other Josh Cohen" is a rock musical rom-com running off-Broadway. It's about Josh Cohen of course, a lovable schlub who's unlucky in love.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY BEST")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Josh Cohen, singing) My worst day is the 14 of February.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: His luck turns, however, thanks to a case of mistaken identity. Catherine Rampell attended a recent performance and has this report. She was accompanied by an unusual audience.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, BYLINE: The musical "The Other Josh Cohen" speaks to a lot of people - but perhaps to one type of person more than most.

JOSH COHEN: My name is Josh Cohen. I'm from Mahopac, N.Y.

JOSHUA A. COHEN: Joshua A. Cohen from Las Vegas, Nev.

JOSHUA C. COHEN: Joshua C. Cohen from Los Angeles, Calif.

JOSH N. COHEN: Josh N. Cohen - I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

RAMPELL: During a recent matinee, a group of guys from around the country all actually named Josh Cohen got together with other Josh Cohens to see "The Other Josh Cohen." They'd connected on Facebook after Joshua A. Cohen couldn't find his own profile one day because of all of the other Josh Cohens out there. It's basically the John Smith of Judaism. To coordinate, he created a Facebook group, The Josh Cohen Club.

JOSHUA A. COHEN: We're trying to form humanity's first super Josh Cohen.

RAMPELL: The Joshes were all tickled to learn about a hit show that shares their name - all of them, that is, except one.

JOSHUA H. COHEN: I am Joshua H. Cohen. I live in Washington Heights in New York City.

RAMPELL: Joshua H. Cohen was a little irked when he first heard about the show.

COHEN: There are certain rhymes between the story of the show and my actual life.

RAMPELL: Joshua H. Cohen is a talented writer. So is the one in the play. Both went to NYU. Both have a great-grandfather named Samuel who gets his own song in the musical.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAMUEL COHEN'S FAMILY TREE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character, singing) Samuel Cohen's family tree, your great-grandfather's legacy...

RAMPELL: Another odd similarity?

COHEN: The Josh Cohen in the musical winds up - after a long drought of dating - with a music teacher named Diane. My wife, who I met after a long dating drought, is a music teacher named Anne.

RAMPELL: Joshua H. Cohen had reason to be suspicious. He had gone to summer camp with both of the show's writers.

STEVE ROSEN: He was in my bunk.

RAMPELL: That's Steve Rosen who wrote the show with David Rossmer.

DAVID ROSSMER: When we first started the show, we got a call from a friend from summer camp, where Steve and I met. And he said, I just wanted to ask you why you wrote a musical about me without telling me.

RAMPELL: Stay with me. That caller wasn't Joshua H. Cohen. It was yet another Josh Cohen who also went to camp with them. They assured the caller the show wasn't about him.

ROSSMER: And I said Josh, you're an acquaintance. We like you, but I don't know you that well. Of course we would never write a musical about you and not tell you.

RAMPELL: After thinking about it, Joshua H. Cohen realized the same thing. He now gives the musical an unqualified endorsement. And really, who is more qualified to endorse it?

COHEN: I loved the show. It was true to life in every way.

RAMPELL: David Rossmer.

ROSSMER: The show is like a horoscope. And anyone who reads it thinks it relates to them, and that's just great. (Laughter) I think that's great.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE OTHER JOSH COHEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (Singing, as Josh Cohen) I know you've had a tough year. I could tell you you'll be fine.

RAMPELL: We all want to feel like our story is special, unique. Maybe it's not. And maybe that's OK because that also means no matter how broke you are or broken you feel, you're really not alone. It just takes getting a musical named after you - or maybe not - to realize it.

For NPR News, I'm Catherine Rampell in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE OTHER JOSH COHEN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As Josh Cohen, singing) The other Josh Cohen... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.