When Jews Were Funny

directed by Alan Zweig

February 7th – 10th

Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street

Classic joke: when a lifeguard presents a mother her barely saved son, she deadpans “He had a hat”. The answer to the title of doc maker Alan Zweig’s latest is of course, “always”. On some sort of strange quest, Zweig tries to explore the history of Jewish comedy, as if that golden age has long passed. He fails. Funny is funny, and the slew of young Jewish comedians interviewed, though most offer up fond nostalgia, prove that the show is still on. It’s great to see classic clips of Jackie Mason, Alan King and Henny Youngman, but the magic of this film odyssey comes with the surviving members of that early television class (Shelley Berman,  Norm Crosby, Shecky Green), who are still crackerjack smart and whoopass hilarious. David Steinberg is the only guest who offers up some insightful theories, but he is quickly set aside for more jokes. Ignore Zweig’s leading and prodding,  just enjoy the banter and you’ve got yourself something here.

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