Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By James H. Carlin
Observer Entertainment Writer 

So, This Jewish Guy Walks Into "Old Jews Telling Jokes" by Max Palevsky Theater

2 hours later, he laughs a lot and only feels a little bit guilty, maybe.

 

August 11, 2016

"These five jews put on a show..." Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn't it? "Old Jews Telling Jokes", the Max Palevsky Theater stage show comprising more than two hours of nearly nonstop, mostly jewish flavored jokes just finished playing at the Aero Theatre.

This jew laughed a lot, and only felt a little guilty.

"These five jews put on a show..." Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn't it? "Old Jews Telling Jokes", the Max Palevsky Theater stage show comprising more than two hours of nearly nonstop, mostly jewish flavored jokes just finished playing at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. A talented cast of five (two women and three men) brought us the stage show version of what began as a web broadcast, and has now become a book, two audiobooks, a BBC television series, and a DVD.

I have never laughed quite as hard or as long at anything as I have laughed with jews talking and telling jokes at dinner. "Old Jews Telling Jokes" is the closest thing to the jokes-at-dinner experience as a live stage show can get.

Production values were minimal, just like at the dinner table. Occasional background music was canned, some rudimentary projected title cards were occasionally not visible over the frontal lighting, and there were no sets as the Aero was designed to show movies, even if it does go back to the days of vaudeville. What was lacking in production values was of no consequence as the rare poignant moments followed by more jokes delivered by the actors Francine Berk-Graver, Christopher R. C. Bosen, Elizabeth Ayres Turner, Tobias J. Turner, and Adam Horn scored 90 percent-plus in the laughs department. I might have enjoyed a longer sketch or two, or another musical number.

"These five jews put on a show..." Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn't it? "Old Jews Telling Jokes", the Max Palevsky Theater stage show comprising more than two hours of nearly nonstop, mostly jewish flavored jokes just finished playing at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. A talented cast of five (two women and three men) brought us the stage show version of what began as a web broadcast, and has now become a book, two audiobooks, a BBC television series, and a DVD.

Cultural stereotypes are portrayed and someone down the line is going to kvetch. Some of the characters are exactly like real people we know, real people who actually are exaggerations. Casting the actors as Jewish characters talking about other jews makes this an exercise in self-mocking, (which is permitted), and like a Richard Prior show it gives the audience permission to laugh at and with the actors, and with themselves.

Although elements that formed "The Old Jew" archetype are less and less operative in our society, there are aspects of Old Jewish humor that still speak to me. It is cultural and emotional glue. There was a story in the show, told by one of the characters, about being at a loss for words after his father was diagnosed with cancer. He and his father addressed the void in their conversation, which followed the bad news, by telling jokes into the night. I lost my father suddenly, many years ago. It is his humor that I most remember and miss about him. Amidst the matzo-ball humor, moments such as this made "Old Jews Telling Jokes" as comforting as chicken soup.

"Old Jews Telling Jokes" delivers what it promises. I highly recommend it

. It's a lot of laughs for jews and non-jews alike. Expect adult language and situations. Remember to check out their website for more jews and jokes.

l laughed a lot, and only felt a little guilty.

 

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