Monday, May 21, 2012

Old Jews Telling Jokes May Surprise You

You probably already know if a show titled Old Jews Telling Jokes is for you. It's basically what's advertised, but also not. Here are five surprising facts about the show, conceived by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrents and playing at the Westside Theatre:
From left: Audrey Lynn Weston, Marilyn Sokol, Lenny Wolpe, Todd Sussman, and Bill Army
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
1) Not everyone is old. Audrey Lynn Weston and Bill Army are the two youngsters in the cast.
2) One of the actors isn't Jewish, but he's very convincing (spoiler alert: it's Army).
3) They're not just telling jokes. Sometimes, they sing, perform skits, and deliver monologues.
4) Young up-and-coming composer Adam Gwon wrote the amusing title song.
5) It's actually funny. To be honest, I was afraid the jokes would be groan-inducing, but I found myself laughing out loud, largely due to the delivery by Marilyn Sokol, Weston, Army, Todd Susman, and Lenny Wolpe.

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The Silverman Manifesto (2012)

By Silverman Everyman

Enough of this self loathing and self hating! Enough of Jews
themselves denigrating themselves in public shows
of comedy or books! Enough of dysfunctional families
and ghetto Jews from the past! We are now living in 2012
and we are no longer dysfunctional people nor do we live
in dysfunctional families anymore and Jewish mother jokes
and Jewish Princess jokes and distasteful Joan Rivers' Anne
Frank jokes should be thrown out the window. The Bronx and Brooklyn
ghettoes are things of the past. Wake up, fellow Jews and cast
off your self loathing and self hatred with these terrible jokes
about dysfunctional mothers and weak fathers and antisemitic tropes
that are sometimes even worse than Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice
schtick! Wake up, people!

We are a normal people now, successful, middle-class, no longer in the
New York City ghettoes where much of the old sick humor came from.
Sure, in the 1930s, those jokes had a purpose. Sure, in the 1950s,
after the war, maybe some of those jokes still had a purpose. But now,
in 2012, they have no purpose! Those jokes should be retired and you
know exactly what jokes I am talking about!

We don't live in dysfunctional families anymore and we have success
stories all around, in an entirely new and loving way. It's time for Jews
in America to wake up and smell the new air of happiness and life.
It's time to stop the self loathing and self hating Catskills and Borscht
Belt jokes of the 1950s and celebrate the joyful reality of 2012.
Stand up and create
a new kind of warm, life enhancing and positive humor that goes beyond
the old stereotypes of yore. Rise up and rejoice, O Jews of America,
you have nothing to lose but your long-suffering neuroses. We are no longer a
neurotic people. Stop the Jewish mother jokes, stop the JAP jokes, stop
the sick Anne Frank jokes (and books!), stop the dysfunctional family jokes,
stop the victimization. We are no longer victims. We have made it. Wake up
and celebrate success, joy, happiness, normalness.

Enough already. We are normal. We have arrived. Leave the past alone. Where
it belongs. Stop the Jews are cheap jokes; some of the most philanthropic
people on Earth are American Jews: they build hospitals, museums, fund
scientific research, professorships,
educational initiatives. Focus on the good and the positive; leave the
past where it belongs: in the past!

Wake up and smell the sunshine. We don't all live in the Bronx or
Brooklyn anymore, or Queens
or Beverly Hills. American Jews must evolve. Be nice, all ye who are
comedians and humor
writers. Respect yourselves. Respect what we have become now in 2012.
Stop the old, out-dated
stereotypes. We can write a new chapter in American Jewish history in
the creative arts
of comedy and film and literature and it does not have to be Portnoy's
Complaint anymore.
Nor does it have to be Old Jews Telling Jokes off-Broadway anymore.
Mirror the present,
stop mirroring the dysfunctional ghetto past. Get past the past!
Embrace the now!