Al Kustanowitz, 72, of Fair Lawn, N.J., is more optimistic. A 36-year-veteran of IBM, he now spends an average of an hour a day updating a popular website he launched from home in 2009, a labor of love called Jewish Humor Central (www.jewishhumorcentral.com), which features an entertaining mix of jokes, odd news items (“Gaza Zoo Adds Stuffed Animals”), music, new comedy videos and clips from classic routines.
As “blogger-in-chief,” he says he has written close to 800 blog posts, and admits “it’s getting harder to find clean material” to use on the site. (He includes a warning if a video has language “from the George Carlin list” of seven words you can never say on TV.)
Kustanowitz says his muse was his late wife, Shuly, who served as his “gentle censor.” Now he often runs material by his daughter, Esther, a prolific blogger and Jewish culture queen in her own right. (“The tree doesn’t fall far from the fruits,” Al jokes of his own talent.)
For some 25 years he published a family newsletter with funny news items around Purim time each year, noting that “you can’t make this stuff up.” Over time he sent it out to hundreds of family members and friends, but he abandoned the print edition now that his website has about 2,300 subscribers.
Besides, he says, “I started the blog because I couldn’t wait until Purim.”
Based on his success, Kustanowitz now offers a series of one-hour lectures. His talks include video clips and commentary, with more than two dozen topics to choose from.
“I don’t worry about theories” about Jewish humor and its sociological implications, he says.
“These jokes last forever.”