When Jews Were Funny (Alan Zweig, 2013): USA

Reviewed by Daniel Chein. Viewed at SBIFF.


What makes a Jew funny?


The facial expressions

the gestural hands

the accent that defines how we all complain.


The obnoxious, overwhelming mother

the downtrodden, cynical father

talking over and over and over each other.


Around the dinner table or

on the way to synagogue

arguing all the time to pass the time.


About everything and

over nothing

never a something too insignificant to bicker about.


Their comedy

their experience

in inseparable union like matzo ball and soup.


Latkes for Hannukah

nothing for Yum Kippur

traditions preserve their identity over generations and generations.


Their struggle

their survival

their humor saved their lives amidst genocide.


Where pessimism

isn’t the same as being negative

it’s finding something to joke about in any given situation.


So to answer a question

with another question

Excuse me, but are you Jewish?



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