Sunday, April 18, 2010
A badchan (a Hebrew word meaning jester that has been Yiddishized as badchen) is a Jewish comedian with scholarly overtones who entertained guests at weddings among the Ashkenazim of Eastern Europe. Today they are found in all countries with Chassidic populations, including the United States, doing their shtick at weddings.
The badchanim (plural) probably originated during the Middle Ages where they traveled around Europe like troubadors. They developed a tradition of wedding entertainment, telling jokes related to scriptural and Talmudic passages. More recently, in this country, their entertainment has included impersonations of Jewish religious figures and American politicians.
Here's a sampling of badchanim performing at a wedding. Usually the performances are all in Yiddish, but this one has has enough English to be understood by non-Yiddish speakers.
This set includes some impersonations that you may or may not recognize, but we thought you'd get a kick out of these guys as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, as well as Rabbis Paysach Krohn and Avigdor Miller.