That's rich! Jeff tells how to succeed in business - thanks to a little bit of fraud

FINANCIAL misdemeanours have dominated the newspaper headlines in the past few months.

British MPs were lambasted for fraudulent expenses' claims, while crooked businessman Bernard Madoff was sentenced this week to 150 years in prison for swindling billions of dollars from charities and individuals.

But a new book teaches people how to get ahead in business - through fraud.

However, Jeff Kreisler's Get Rich Cheating is purely tongue in cheek.

American political comedian and writer Jeff told the Jewish Telegraph: "It is a satirical look at making money - it is a spoof."

But one gullible woman in San Francisco did not take too kindly to him.

He recalled: "I was doing a book signing and gave a talk.

"A woman came up to me afterwards and told me that I should be ashamed of myself - I took it as a compliment."

Jeff, who is in his 30s, is heading to the Edinburgh Festival next month, two years after making his debut there.

He said: "I did my own solo show in 2007. That was an hour of stand-up and last year I performed a sitcom called The Americans with two other comedians."

New York City-based Jeff said his show Get Rich Cheating: East To Edinburgh is an adaptation of his book.

Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, of Russian, Polish and Austrian descent, Jeff's father Michael was a scientist at nearby Amerhurst College.

Dad's job took the family to the French side of Lake Geneva, before they moved back to America.

Jeff read politics and economics at Princeton University and later read law at the University of Virginia.

He explained: "I am the youngest member of the family - that is probably what drove me into comedy.

"I have always been culturally and politically aware.

"I lean to the left politically, but that is probably because we recently came out of an extreme-right government in America."

After completing his law degree, he taught English in Russia before moving to San Francisco, which is where he started his fledgling comedy career.

He said: "San Francisco has a big comedy tradition.

"I could have gone to Los Angeles or New York, but Cisco did not have the industrial pressure of those places.

"People were more creative there and open-minded."

Jeff started off performing at open-mic nights at coffee shops and comedy clubs. He built up his act before going to live in New York City six years ago.

"For me, New York has a lot more going on politically and culturally," Jeff added. "It inspires me more than Los Angeles - it is not just about showbusiness here."

And Jeff likes to bring an intellectual edge to his comedy. He said: "I am interested in interacting with the audience. I never focus on myself in my act. I like to be outward looking during my show."

Described as "passionate, energetic, magnetic, opinionated, and, above all, extremely funny", he wrote a humorous business column for website, before being approached by publishers HaperCollins to write a book.

He recalled: "I read the business pages of every newspaper every day for four years.

"I read about chief executives receiving million dollar pay-offs.

"Scandals such as those and parliamentary expenses are mentioned in the book."

Jeff reckons his religion has played a part in shaping his career.

He continued: "Being brought up Jewish, my barmitzvah was essentially my first stand-up performance - and it was in another language.

"I think Judaism gives you a creative intellectualism - it is a very intellectual religion.

"We were not a religious family, but we celebrated the High Holy Days and my paternal grandfather was a part-time rabbi."

His wife Anne is Catholic and he is planning to bring up his children in both religions.

"They will be CathJews," he laughed.

A cast member on Shoot The Messenger, a new show from the creator of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a winner of the Bill Hicks Spirit Award for Thought Provoking Comedy, Jeff recently became editor of the online parody My Wall Street Journal.

He explained: "Rupert Murdoch took over The Wall Street Journal, which had always been a respected, serious, broadsheet newspaper.

"We are basically lampooning Murdoch and his tabloid style."

A self-confessed fan of Barack Obama, he admits that no political system is perfect, but is optimistic for America's future.

Jeff said: "I hope everything turns out well and the country manages to pull itself out of the hole we are in.

"At the moment, we are just muddling along as best we can."

A fan of Steve Martin, Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, Jeff said he prefers playing comedy gigs in the UK rather than in America.

He added: "It is definitely easier to communicate with the audience in the UK.

"There is a tradition in American comedy clubs for audience members to have their own table and drinks' waitress - so they become easily distracted and don't concentrate on what is being said."

Jeff's Edinburgh show starts at the 455 Stand Comedy Club on August 7 and runs until August 30. Visit:

© 2009 Jewish Telegraph