Friday, July 3, 2015

Comedy Flashback: Jack Benny and Groucho Marx Face Off 60 Years Ago


We find it hard to believe that it's 60 years since Jack Benny appeared in disguise as a contestant on The Groucho Marx Show. 

But it happened in 1955, when Benny, calling himself Ronald Forsythe, shows his famed attachment to money.

Playing Groucho's game, Benny tries to guess the secret word to get the duck to come down and give him 100 dollars. Groucho, seeing through Benny's disguise, tries to trick him into revealing his true age. This is a classic for both Marx and Benny.

Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Midweek Joke From Rabbi Bob Alper - "Afterlife Encounter"


Rabbi Bob Alper's standup sets have made frequent appearances on Jewish Humor Central. 

We've been watching his funny DVD and just can't resist sharing some of his jokes with you, especially since he gave us permission to spread the joy that his humor brings to live audiences and to viewers of the DVD.

The DVD contains his 50 minute standup set and a collection of jokes that we're just starting to tap into. Here's one that we call "Afterlife Encounter."

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kutsher's Film Goes From Limited Showings to National Release -- on DVD and VOD


Last February we wrote about the South Florida debut of the film Welcome to Kutsher's -- the award-winning film documenting the Borscht Belt experience at the last surviving Catskills hotel. We were in and around Delray Beach, the town where the film played for a week before it moved to California for another week of showings. 

We saw the film and got a lot of nachas from reliving our days of vacationing in the Catskills. But unless you happened to be in the few cities where it was shown, you missed out on the fun and the nostalgia.

The film was released last week on DVD and it's available to purchase as a DVD or rent as Video On Demand, thanks to film makers Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg, and the 154 Kickstarter backers who pledged $12,105 to help bring the project to life.

During its debut week at Movies of Delray, Rosenberg and Larry Strickler, Kutsher's social director for 26 years, reminisced about life in the Catskills while they were interviewed by Peter Wein.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Comedy Flashback: Gilda Radner as Miss Emily Litella


The late great comedian Gilda Radner would have been 69 years old this week. We've been running video clips of some of her best routines and portrayals of characters such as Roseanne Roseannadanna and Judy Miller.

We found a clip of an on-stage performance where Gilda used her Emily Litella character in a classroom sketch directed in 1980 by Mike Nichols. We thought you'd like to reminisce with us as she becomes the character and delivers her funny lines with impeccable timing. 

Unlike the Saturday Night Live skits, this one gets close to being R-rated, but she saves the day with her classic line "Never mind."

Enjoy!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

A Joke to Start the Week - "The Penitent Parrot"

 
It's Monday again, so it's time to start the week with a new old joke. Once again our joke teller is Jerry Ostrov, founder of The reThink Israel Initiative, which operates the Facebook site From the Grapevine.
 
This site was created to provide a fresh perspective on Israel. From the land’s natural beauty to Tel Aviv's vibrant technology scene; from the global culinary world's focus on Israeli food and recipes to the innovative Israelis who are changing the world – FromTheGrapevine covers the bounty of what Israel is about today.

Here's the setup for today's joke: David gets a parrot for his Bar Mitzvah. This parrot is disgusting, it's vile, it's obnoxious, it won't do anything that he says. And then...
Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: The Talmud is a Best-Seller in South Korea


Last week The New Yorker published a fascinating article about the Talmud being a best-seller in South Korea, finding a place in most homes.

According to the author, Ross Arbes, who studied the Talmud in a day school in Atlanta, the Talmud's presence in Korea is attributable to Marvin Tokayer, a 78-year-old rabbi who lives in Great Neck, New York.

In 1962, Rabbi Tokayer served as an Air Force chaplain in Japan and South Korea, and returned to Tokyo in 1968 as the rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan.

In the June 23 issue of The New Yorker, Arbes writes:
In 2011, the South Korean Ambassador to Israel at the time, Young-sam Ma, was interviewed on the Israeli public-television show “Culture Today.” “I wanted to show you this,” he told the host, straying briefly from the topic at hand, a Korean film showing in Tel Aviv.
It was a white paperback book with “Talmud” written in Korean and English on the cover, along with a cartoon sketch of a Biblical character with a robe and staff. “Each Korean family has at least one copy of the Talmud. Korean mothers want to know how so many Jewish people became geniuses.”
Looking up at the surprised host, he added, “Twenty-three per cent of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish people. Korean women want to know the secret. They found the secret in this book.”
Here is a clip from the interview:

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Adaptation of "The Rothschilds" Coming to Off-Broadway in October

 
Hal Linden as Mayer Rothschild in the Original Cast
If there was a Tony Award for Best Musical on a Jewish Theme, we would have given it to The Rothschilds, a 1970 Broadway show that ran for 505 performances. 

The words and music were written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, who wrote the words and music for Fiddler on the Roof. Hal Linden had the leading role as Mayer Rothschild. The musical was revived in an off-Broadway version featuring Mike Burstyn in 1980. But it hasn't been heard from since.

Now, 35 years later, it's returning in an adaptation called Rothschild and Sons. It will be performed at The York Theatre from October 6 through November 1 and tickets are already on sale for all performances.

As Andrew R. Chow wrote in The New York Times,
The new adaptation is being directed by Jeffrey Moss and was created with the involvement of Mr. Harnick, who wrote the lyrics, Sherman Yellen, who wrote the book, and the estate of Mr. Bock, who wrote the songs. The reconstructed story centers on the relationship between the Jewish banker Mayer Rothschild, played by Robert Cuccioli (“Jekyll and Hyde”), and his family. Mr. Cuccioli appeared in the 1990 revival of “The Rothschilds” as Mayer’s son, Nathan.
According to Mr. Moss, the idea to restructure the story stemmed from a comment made by Mr. Bock’s 12-year-old son after seeing the original for the first time. “I think there’s a story buried in this show that hasn’t been told yet,” Mr. Moss said. “This is a love story between a father and his sons.”
Songs from the original cast are hard to find today, but here is Sons, one of the best songs in the original show.

Enjoy!

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(A tip of the kippah to Eita Latkin for bringing this news to our attention.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jackie Mason Musical Comes to Off-Broadway Stage in July and August


Here's something for Jackie Mason fans. We've posted many of Jackie's routines and shtick over the six years that Jewish Humor Central has been around.

We thought that we knew everything about the comedian, but were surprised to find out that there's a musical based on his life. 

It's coming to the Broadway Comedy Club in Manhattan in July, with performances on Wednesdays July 8, 15, and 22 at 2 pm.

Billed as "Both sides of a famous love affair with a hilarious twist," it was inspired by real events and portrayed by the real woman at the eye of the comedic storm, The Jackie Mason Musical takes you behind the scenes and introduces you a side of the comedian you’ve never seen before.

It begins at the bustling Rascal House delicatessen in Miami Beach, 1977. Jackie Mason (played by Ian Wehrle), spots Ginger sitting with her mother, Mrs. Olivier, among the pastrami platters and pickles, and sends his lackey over to her table. 

The overbearing mother is overjoyed to introduce her beautiful daughter to the much older comedian and the rest is the hilarious tale of the affair between Mason and bellydancing/playwright Ginger – featuring their real-life daughter - Comic Sheba Mason and a Cast of 8.

The back story: In real life, comedian Jackie Mason had a love affair with a belly dancer in Miami in the late 70s, resulting in the birth of a love child, a woman named Sheba Mason, who has grown up to be a comedienne in her own right.
 
The story on stage: Sheba’s mother, Ginger Reiter, has now composed, written and directed a new musical that stars her real-life daughter, Sheba. Playing both herself and her mom, Sheba is joined by a cast of actors, with Ian Wehrle as Jackie Mason.


The show includes such original songs as “Just An Ordinary Man,” “I Never Met This Yenta” and “Big Blue Eyes.” Hilarious, inspired and a thoroughly original take on a personality you thought you knew through and through, The Jackie Mason Musical is a must for fans of the comedian and anyone who loves a great, if complicated, love story.


Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Unexpected Traces in Jewish Places: Japanese Klezmer Band Jinta-la-Mvta Performs at KulturfestNYC


One of the most unusual bands to perform at KulturfestNYC, the week-long festival of Jewish music that ended its run on Sunday, was Jinta La-Mvta, a Japanese klezmer band. Yes, we said Japanese and klezmer in the same sentence.

The group was founded in 2004 by Ohkuma Wataru, clarinetist and bandleader of the groundbreaking Japanese experimental folk band Cicala Mvta and his partner and drummer Kogure Miwazo.

Considered as one of the few Klezmer experts in Japan, Wataru has also penned various pieces on Klezmer and Japanese liner notes of Klezmatics and Frank London.

We got a glimpse and sample of the band's music at the KulturfestNYC opening concert on June 14. The next day they performed at Joe's Pub at the Public.

We found a good sample of their Japanese klezmer style on YouTube and we're sharing it with you today.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Unexpected Traces in Jewish Places - Hasidim Play and Sing "Samba Set"


Wedding music at Hasidic weddings is pretty predictable. That is, until now. At a recent wedding in Lakewood, New Jersey, the Meshorerim Choir sang and Naftuli Moshe Schnitzler played a "Samba Set" on the keyboard.

We found the music to be infectious as we swayed and looked for a dance partner to launch into a set of Latin American dances. 

Do you think this will motivate Hasidic wedding guests to get out of their chairs and sweep across the dance floor? Will it lead to social dancing? Probably not, but who can predict what's next? The Rumba? Bossa Nova?  

Enjoy!

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