Thursday, January 31, 2013

Standup Comedy From Joel Chasnoff: On Jewish Parenting, Marriage, and Orthodox Jewish Cheerleaders


Joel Chasnoff is one of our favorite standup comics. We started posting his routines in early 2010 and revisited his humor in 2011 and 2012. We posted Joel's funny observations on traveling, playing on a yeshiva basketball team, foreign languages, and Passover.

If you're not familiar with Joel as a standup comic, you may have read his funny book, The 188th Crybaby Brigade, about his adventures as an American in the Israeli army. It's a hilarious coming-of-age tale in which Chasnoff takes readers into the barracks, across international borders, over, under, and through political fences, and face-to-face with the absurd reality of life in the Israeli Army. 

Here's a 12 minute gem - a collection of Joel's funny reflections on Jewish parenting and marriage, Orthodox Jewish cheerleaders, and speaking Dutch and Chinese.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Subway Klezmer Saxophonist Update: He's Isaiah Richardson, Alumnus of US Marine Band, Juilliard, and Music & Art HS



Two weeks ago we ran a story and video about an unidentified man playing a medley of Jewish songs on saxophone and clarinet in the Times Square subway station. At the time we didn't have any more information about him, but now we know the rest of the story, which we'll share with you.

He's Isaiah Richardson Jr., an alumnus of the Juilliard School, the High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts, and the United States Marine Corps Band. So what's he doing playing Jewish music in the subway?

Zach Pontz interviewed Richardson for the Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner, and got some insight into his background and musical interests. Here is his report:
When I finally caught up with Richardson, over coffee in Brooklyn, I learned that he isn’t your typical street performer. In fact, he’s not really a street performer at all. An accomplished musician with performances at Webster Hall, Carnegie Hall and the 92nd Street Y under his belt, he currently plays with the band Brown Rice Family, the Colombian Punk Rock band Maku SoundSystem, and is a working musician-for-hire. At the time of our meeting he was shooting a project for HBO.
A multi-instrumentalist who identifies himself as a clarinetist first and foremost (he also plays the saxophone, harmonica, trumpet and piano, among other instruments), he fell into playing in subways by accident, then by necessity.

“I remember the exact date: September 24, 2010. I did a recording earlier in the day and fell asleep on the train and all of my instruments got stolen. My tenor sax—gone. Flute-gone. Clarinet-gone. Harmonica—gone. At that point all I had was a trumpet. So I decided then, and if you’re a musician and that’s what you do and your things are gone—that’s a problem. And I didn’t have any money then, so I decided to play the trumpet on the street,” he relates.

Among the songs in his repertoire were several klezmer and traditional Jewish tunes he had picked up while studying the clarinet, first in a program at Juilliard when he was just 12, then later in high school, college and for the Marine Corps band.

“I just heard all these sounds and every clarinetist wanted to learn how to make those sounds,” he said of growing up around musicians who found their influence in the klezmer music first cultivated by Eastern European Jews, and then spread across the globe.

But his real education came in high school when he got hold of a certain album by a prominent klezmer musician. “I got an Andy Statman album, Hidden Light, and I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that album. Just over and over again, every day.” Other musicians that Richardson is fond of citing include Benny Goodman and Dave Tallas, whom Richardson speaks of in almost hushed tones. “Nobody can touch Dave Tarras. Nobody,” he says.
Last November the New York Times ran a video report on Richardson, who frequently plays on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 

But he doesn't confine his playing to the museum. Subway stations are also a favorite spot, and we found another clip of him playing the Yiddish song Oyf'n Pripitchik in the West 4th Street station. Here's the video, posted on YouTube by Simon Marcus, followed by the New York Times video.
Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)






Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Comedy Down Memory Lane: A Classic Bit From Myron Cohen


Some of the funniest Jewish comedians became famous long before YouTube, and even before their standup routines were kinescoped or videotaped for posterity. The only way you could laugh at their shtick was to be in the audience at Grossinger's, the Concord, or any of the many hotels in New York's Catskill Mountains that became known as the Borscht Belt. 

Then came television and the Ed Sullivan Show, which brought the likes of Sam Levenson, Shelly Berman, Buddy Hackett, Mort Sahl, Henny Youngman, and Myron Cohen to the attention of a wider audience.

Cohen (1902-1986) started out as a salesman in the garment industry in New York. When calling on customers, before showing his samples, he would tell a joke to put everyone at ease and establish a friendly mood. Cohen’s jokes were often more popular than his garment samples, and his customers urged him to become a professional comedian.

He entertained in nightclubs in the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared frequently on The Ed Sullivan Show. Although he spoke perfect, cultured English, he was a master at capturing the ethnic accents of the Jewish citizens of New York City.

There aren't many video clips of Myron Cohen's routines, but here's one we found from a 1978 performance in Warwick, Rhode Island. If you like the clip, you can rent the 60 minute video from Netflix or buy it at Amazon.com.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.) 



Monday, January 28, 2013

A Joke to Start the Week: "Write it Down or You'll Forget"


Bernie Liebowitz, a 93-year-old retiree from the carpet business, is our joke teller to get the week off to a funny start. Bernie, a member of the 65 and older cast of the Old Jews Telling Jokes website, gives us an old joke that we've seen in many forms, including a short film that we posted last October.

Here’s the setup for the joke : Molly said to Sam: “Sammy, get me some ice cream, and Sam, please write it down because you're going to forget." And then...

Enjoy, even if you know the punch line!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Jewish Song and Dance in Belarus


Jewish life is returning to Belarus and its capital, Minsk. After the founding of yeshivot in Volozhin and Mir in the nineteenth century, the Jewish population rose to almost a million in the 1900s.

After the Holocaust, only ten percent remained, many of whom moved to Israel. Recent surveys estimate the population now to be around 50,000.

Belarus was home to many notable Jews, including Shimon Peres, Chaim Weitzman, Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Shamir, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Irving Berlin, Marc Chagall, Louis B. Mayer, David Sarnoff, and Ayn Rand.

Jewish organizations are taking root in Belarus, such as community centers, youth organizations, kindergartens, newspapers, magazines, and a web site.

A visible sign of a Jewish awakening is the performance of Jewish music in public places. In our ongoing search for new and unusual interpretations of Tumbalalaika, Hava Nagila, and Hevenu Shalom Aleichem around the world, we came across the Radzimichy Folk Ensemble of Belarus. In the video below, they sing and dance to the melodies of all three songs, dressed in their traditional folk costumes.

Enjoy!
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

He's Back! Standup Comic David Finkelstein: A Guide to Jewish Pre-Marital Relations


David Finkelstein, dressed in black as an Orthodox Jew, was a big hit a few days ago when we posted his standup comedy routine at the Broadway Comedy Club. Since many readers asked for more, we expanded our search and found another one of David's routines with his "Guide to Jewish Pre-Marital Relations."

It appears to be another few minutes taken from the same performance at the Broadway Comedy Club. In this one he veers into a description of the convoluted steps he has to take as an Orthodox Jew operating at the edge of restrictions about touching a female. His advice includes how to sit next to females on the subway and how to interact with cashiers at the store.
"When I go to the store, if the cashier is a female, I'm not allowed to hand her the money, so we don't accidentally touch. Sometimes when I'm horny, I hand her the money so our fingers brush passionately."
We're still trying to track him down and find more of his shtick and backstory. Stay tuned and enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places - Japanese Hebrew Choir in Kyoto


Last week's post of a Chinese chorus singing Yiddish and Hebrew songs in Hong Kong got such a positive response that we just had to share the songs of another choir 1,500 miles across the East China Sea in Kyoto, Japan.

We don't know if the choir of Beit Shalom in Kyoto sings in Yiddish, but their Hebrew singing is beautiful. Beit Shalom (House of Peace) is the headquarters of the Japanese Christian Friends of Israel. The group is well known for its choir, the Shinome (Dawn) Chorus, which sings Israeli and Japanese songs and has traveled to Israel, Europe, and the United States. The group's main ideology centers on support for Israel and includes prayers for the coming of the Messiah. 

Rather than encourage conversion to Christianity, the group emphasizes peace between peoples. Ehud Olmert visited Beit Shalom when he was the mayor of Jerusalem. Jews and Israelis are specifically welcome to stay at Beit Shalom for up to three nights free of charge.

In this video, the Beit Shalom choir sings Lalechet Shevi Acharaich, an Israeli song by Ehud Manor made popular by the singer Ilanit, and Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold). In between these two songs they sing another, which we have not been able to identify. The first reader who correctly identifies the middle song will receive a Kindle edition (ebook) of Jewish Humor on Your Desktop: Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)  



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jerusalemites Join No-Pants-in-Subway Craze


Photo: YourJewishNews.com
On Sunday, January 13th, tens of thousands of people took off their pants on subways in 60 cities in 25 countries around the world. In New York, where it all started 12 years ago, the  Annual No Pants Subway Ride had over 4,000 participants, spread out over six meeting points and ten subway lines.

There are no borders to silliness, and that applies to the Jerusalemites who joined the worldwide mishegas as they rode the light rail system on the same day in their underwear to the stares and bewilderment of riders and onlookers.

The idea behind No Pants is simple: Random passengers board a subway car at separate stops in the middle of winter without pants. It was started by Improv Everywhere,  a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. This month's prank really deserves the title of "flash mob."

Created in August of 2001, Improv Everywhere has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents.

The two videos below show the narishkeit in Jerusalem and New York.

Enjoy! 

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Comedy Showcase: Meet David Finkelstein, Black-Hatted Orthodox Comic


There aren't many black-hatted Orthodox Jews among the acts at stand-up comedy clubs, so it's always fun to see the few that venture into this somewhat unforgiving branch of show business.

David Finkelstein seems to be one of them. If we sound equivocal, it's because we can't find other traces of him on YouTube or the rest of the Internet. So is he for real or is he putting us on? We think he's too good to be a beginner at stand-up comedy, but where else has he appeared besides the Broadway Comedy Club? Most comedians have their own web site, but not this one. So we'll keep an eye out for more of his shtick and bring it to you when we find it.

In any event, we think he's funny with a good sense of timing, and we like his understated, dry delivery. In this routine, David talks about life in black clothing, where the only way he can show his individuality is in his choice of underwear.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)


(A tip of the kippah and a copy of Jewish Humor on Your Desktop: Old Jokes and New Comedians - Kindle Edition to Eli Kowalsky for bringing this video to our attention.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Joke to Start the Week: "The First Time"


It's that time again. Monday morning and the start of another work week. (Sorry, readers in Israel. For you it's the second day of the work week.) We're off to a good start with another joke from the Old Jews Telling Jokes collection. 

This time it's Max Rosenthal, 87-year-old children's wear businessman with a joke that takes place in a doctor's office. Here's the setup: Mr. and Mrs. Shapiro go to see the doctor. The doctor calls in Mrs. Shapiro and tells her that her husband told him that he has a little problem with his sex life.
And then...

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)