Monday, February 29, 2016

A Joke to Start the Week: "Bad Surgery"


It's another Monday morning, and it's time for another Joke to Start the Week. It's also time for us to head to the airport and fly back to the cold northeast after a month-long lecture tour of South Florida.

So let's laugh together with 74-year-old Certified Financial Planner Norman Politziner with a classic from the Old Jews Telling Jokes joke collection.

Here's the setup: Three guys wake up in the recovery room after terrible operations, and one guy groggily looks at the others and says.......

Enjoy!

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Old Jews Pulling Cars: Mighty Atom Jr. Returns to Pull Truck with Show Judges & 5000 Lbs.


Last week we posted a video of Mike Greenstein, the 93-year-old heir to his father's title of Mighty Atom, pulling a car containing his girlfriend and his brother and his wife, a total of 3,500 pounds.

Then we found out that his feat wasn't good enough for him, so he came back to the America's Got Talent studio to try his luck in pulling a truck containing the show's four judges, a total of 5,000 pounds.

That's a lot of weight to pull with only your teeth, but Mike was determined to succeed. Was he successful? Watch the video and see.

Enjoy! 

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekend Standup Comedy Bonus: Dr. Ed Yisroel Susskind Delivers an 19 Minute Joke Set


We've posted standup comedy routines by a lot of comedians, old and new. But Dr. Ed Yisroel Susskind was an unexpected find for Jewish Humor Central.

We learned that you can't tell a comedian by his or her looks. Dr. Susskind is a case in point. A quick look at him and you expect to hear a d'var Torah - a Biblical lesson, not a succession of old, tried and true jokes. 

But Dr. Susskind, a clinical psychologist, marital therapist and wannabe comedian, was following through on an invitation by Rabbi Pesach Burston of Chabad of Orange County, New York to do an evening of standup comedy.

The jokes in this 19-minute set deal with aspects of being Jewish, Jewish culture, the Jewish mindset, and Jewish religious life.

Enjoy!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Great Jewish Comedians: Robert Klein on the Trials of a Substitute Teacher


Robert Klein was born in the Bronx, and was raised in a 1950s Bronx Jewish environment. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School, Klein had planned to study medicine; however, he changed his mind during his studies at Alfred University. 

After graduating, he studied at the Yale Drama School when he learned about an opportunity to audition for The Second City. In a piece he wrote for the improvisational troupe's book, Klein recalled sitting in a room full of other hopefuls, including Fred Willard. 

Klein's audition consisted of an improvisation set with Willard about two guys in a nightclub, which was successful enough to get Klein and Willard hired by Second City. In the spring of 1965, Klein was chosen as a member of Second City. When he returned to New York City a year later, he was cast by Mike Nichols in the Broadway musical The Apple Tree.

Klein has appeared in such movies as The Owl and the Pussycat, Hooper, Primary Colors, Radioland Murders, Ira and Abby, One Fine Day, Two Weeks Notice, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and The Safety of Objects. He had a recurring role in the TV drama series Sisters. In the 1970s, he hosted Saturday Night Live twice.

Klein starred in HBO's first stand-up comedy special in 1975 during the cable channel's early broadcast days and has continued to appear in several more one-man shows which have typically concluded with his "I can't stop my leg" routine. In 1979, Klein was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in They're Playing Our Song. In 1985, he starred in the "Wordplay" episode of The New Twilight Zone.

Here's a video clip of Klein performing a standup comedy routine on TV in 1973, in which he shared the trials of being a substitute teacher.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old Jews Pulling Cars: 93-Year-Old Mike Greenstein Pulls 3500 lb. Car with His Teeth


Last year 93-year-old Mike Greenstein astonished an America's Got Talent studio audience and hundreds of watchers on the street outside when he pulled a 3,500 pound car occupied by his brother, his brother's wife, and his girlfriend across a finish line using only his teeth.

Greenstein, who goes by the name Mighty Atom Jr., inherited his talent from his father, Joseph Greenstein, known as The Mighty Atom. His life is chronicled in a book called The Mighty Atom: The Life and Times of Joseph L. Greenstein; Biography of a Superhuman.

Joseph Greenstein was a strongman in an era of strongmen who performed in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a devout Jew and a fundraiser for charitable causes. His son continued his record of feats of incredible strength.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mayim Bialik and YidLife Crisis Go On a Double Date (in Yiddish)


Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion, the comedy duo who created the hilarious web series YidLife Crisis, are lifelong performers, actors, writers, producers and musicians. 

Mayim Bialik is a featured actress in the popular sitcom Big Bang Theory, and a respected parenting guru on her website GrokNation.com

So what do they have in common?

Last week they joined forces in the latest episode of YidLife Crisis.

As Renee Ghert-Zand wrote in The Times of Israel,
Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion, the duo behind ‘YidLife Crisis,’ have sent us a funny Yiddish valentine. It’s the latest episode of the comedic web series, and it’s about the kind of date you definitely don’t want to have on February 14.

“Big Bang Theory” actress and attachment parenting guru Mayim Bialik guest stars in the episode as Chaya, a high-powered, no-nonsense neurosurgeon apparently set up by her mother on a blind date with Leizer, the slightly nebbishy character played by Batalion.

The two meet at a kosher sushi restaurant in Los Angeles, which is far from the series’ usual setting of Montreal. Chaya comes to the blind date with a long list of questions to ask Leizer. It’s her way of cutting to the chase and not wasting any of her precious time.
Enjoy!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

A Joke to Start the Week - "Stalled Conversation"


It's another Monday morning in South Florida, and we're taking a short break from our 10-lecture tour to post this week's Joke to Start the Week.

This week's joke is another one from Old Jews Telling Jokes, and the jokester is 86-year-old retired chemical engineer Len Portnoy. 

Here's the setup: "I was in this restaurant when nature called, and I had to go to the restroom. I'm sitting in one of the stalls, and the guy in the next stall started speaking to me." And then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Artist-Musician Rara Kuyu Plays Hebrew Songs in Miami Beach's Lincoln Road Mall


Strolling along Miami Beach's picturesque Lincoln Road mall last Friday afternoon, the last thing we expected to see was a Haitian artist and musician entertaining the passersby with a collection of Hebrew songs. But that's exactly what we saw.

Rara Kuyu, a local artist and musician who graces the Miami scene, often stations himself in the center of the Lincoln Road in Miami Beach's colorful South Beach outdoor shopping mall. Rushing to get back to our apartment before Shabbat, we were only able to catch a few of his songs. While we were there, he sang Rad Halayla, Siman Tov U'Mazal Tov, and Ani Ma'amin

We wondered: Who is this street musician? A bit of research revealed that he is a popular artist who paints murals and his own van with the colors of his native Haiti. He has adopted a mission to keep the Jewish culture alive, and toward that end fills the Miami streets with Jewish and Hebrew songs. 

He also has created a large painting titled No More Holocaust that is based on the huge hand sculpture that dominates the Holocaust Museum in Miami Beach. Click on the link below to see his YouTube video in which he explains the symbolism of the various parts of the painting.


https://youtu.be/klvUxJtMByM


Enjoy!

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Friday, February 19, 2016

The Great Jewish Comedians: Jack E. Leonard with Frank Sinatra on Hollywood Palace


Jack E. Leonard, born Leonard Lebitsky, was an American comedian and actor who made frequent appearances on television variety and game shows in the 1950s and 1960s.

Leonard's Wikipedia entry describes his comedic method as sarcastic and aggressive, creating an "insult humor" genre which anticipated Don Rickles. (Rickles's Friars' Club roast was emceed by Leonard, who introduced Rickles as "a man who's been doing my act for about 12 years now.") 

A trademark line, after taking off his hat to reveal his bald head: "What did you expect, feathers?" He also referenced his weight problem in his act. Leonard's strong and unapologetic on-stage personality ("Good evening, opponents!") belied a gentle and giving spirit that would occasionally be revealed in his act when he would sing a sentimental song.

He wore a distinctive outfit: a dark suit, purposely two sizes too small, a white narrow-brimmed hat, and horn-rimmed glasses.

In today's video, Leonard laces into Frank Sinatra as Sinatra hosts the Hollywood Palace TV show. Enjoy!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hava Nagila Around the World - A Russian Ice Skating Performance


We've been following Hava Nagila, probably the most played Hebrew song, around the world and sharing videos featuring its many interpretations as it travels from city to city and country to country.

So far we've collected and shared more than 50 of these YouTube video clips, and you can see all of them via links from our latest book, Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places, in both Kindle ebook and paperback versions.

Today we encountered another one that was just too good to keep to ourselves. It's a video of a beautiful interpretation by two Russian ice skaters in Moscow in 2010.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Great Jewish Comedians: Groucho Marx Gets an Honorary Oscar


Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian and film and television star. 

He was known as a master of quick wit and is widely considered one of the best comedians of the modern era. His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers and imitators.

His Wikipedia entry reports that he made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. He also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life.


His distinctive appearance, carried over from his days in vaudeville, included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, glasses, cigar, and a thick greasepaint mustache and eyebrows. These exaggerated features resulted in the creation of one of the world's most ubiquitous and recognizable novelty disguises, known as "Groucho glasses": a one-piece mask consisting of horn-rimmed glasses, large plastic nose, bushy eyebrows and mustache.


In this video clip, Jack Lemmon presents Groucho Marx with an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequaled achievements of the Marx Brothers in the art of motion picture comedy at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Funniest Jewish Film Moments: Mel Brooks as Yogurt, Keeper of The Schwartz, in Spaceballs


Some of the funniest Jewish moments in cinema involve the acting and directing of Mel Brooks.  When Mel puts himself in the center of the action, the laughs come faster and louder.

We've already posted clips of Mel in Blazing Saddles, and today we're sharing a clip from his movie Spaceballs, a classic Star Wars spoof. In this scene, he appears as Yogurt, the Yoda-like character who is the keeper of The Schwartz.

Enjoy!

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Monday, February 15, 2016

A Joke to Start the Week - "Stolen Peaches"



It's been brutally cold in the Northeast, but what better way to warm up than with a joke to start the week?

Here's a very oldie but still goodie joke that some of you may not have heard. It's on the Old Jews Telling Jokes website and is featured in some of their roadshows.

Today's joke teller is 79-year-old real estate developer Harry Macklowe. Here's the setup:

A couple is in the supermarket. The wife has a problem...she steals...she's a kleptomaniac. She steals a can of fruit and she's taken before the magistrate. And then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Life Blossoms and Love Blooms: A Valentine's Day Special

 
Yes, you read it right. Valentine's Day on Jewish Humor Central. It's today, Sunday, February 14, and it will be celebrated around the world with greeting cards, romantic gifts, and chocolates. 

There always have been mixed feelings in the Jewish world about celebrating this day which originally was named in honor of Valentine, a Christian saint. And today, you can find opinions from rabbis of all Jewish denominations that approve and disapprove of its observance.

We did some searching and found that despite some views that the holiday is foreign to Judaism and should be avoided, there are a growing number of opinions, even in the Orthodox world, that not only should the holiday be observed, but that it should be embraced.

Our contribution to Valentine's Day is a funny and heartwarming video that we received from the Los Angeles Jewish Home, called Life Blossoms and Love Blooms

Featuring current residents, the 3 minute video delves into the stories of how two couples met and fell in love while living at the Jewish Home. They talk about everything from afternoon bingo games to their sex lives.

As the video plays, one thing is for certain: it’s good to be a senior in love.

As Rabbi Benjamin Blech, professsor of Talmud at Yeshiva University, has written about Valentine's Day on the aish.com website
As Jews, we may not be sure whether it's proper for us to join the party. After all, for the longest time the full name of this holiday was “St. Valentine's Day” because of its legendary link with the apocryphal story of one of the earliest Christian saints. Yet academics aren't the only ones who have recognized the dubious historical basis of this connection. Vatican II, the landmark set of reforms adopted by the Catholic Church in 1969, removed Valentine's Day from the Catholic church's calendar, asserting that "though the memorial of St. Valentine is ancient… apart from his name nothing is known… except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on 14 February."
What's left for this day, as proponents of its universal celebration declare, is something that people of all faiths may in good conscience observe: A day in which to acknowledge the power of love to make us fully human.
When I am asked as a rabbi if I think it's a good idea for Jews to celebrate Valentine's Day, my standard answer is, "Yes, we should celebrate love… every day of the year."
Enjoy!

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Musical Showcase: Kol Esperanza Performs Jewish and Israeli Music in South Florida


One of the benefits of doing a lecture tour in South Florida in February is having evenings free to attend shows and concerts catering to a largely Jewish audience of residents, snowbirds, and tourists trying to escape the cold and snows of the North.

On Tuesday night we caught the last of nine concerts by Kol Esperanza, an exciting operatic pop trio, along with Lev Voce, a talented operatic duo who joined in for an evening of Jewish and Israeli songs intermixed with popular operatic arias and Italian songs.

Kol Esperanza consists of Israeli singers Nimrod Grinboim, Nadav Inbar, and Omer Shaish together with Musical Director Tomer Adaddi. The group started performing in 2014 and we think we'll see a lot more of them in the coming years.

In this video, Kol Esperanza sings a medley of popular Jewish songs. We hope you enjoy them.

Shabbat shalom!

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Comedy Flashback: Rich Little Roasts Jack Benny at Friars Club


The Friars Club has been conducting celebrity roasts since 1950. A typical roast has many entertainment industry greats delivering funny tributes to the annual honoree. We'll be running a series of videos showing some of the funniest roasts at the Friars Club.

Comedian Jack Benny was roasted by the Friars Club in 1963 and 1970. In this video clip, Jack is roasted by Rich Little impersonating Jack, George Burns, and Jimmy Stewart.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Treat for Mel Brooks Fans - A Police Stakeout with James Corden


Last fall on an episode of The Late Late Show with host James Corden, Mel Brooks made an appearance as a policeman with Corden playing his partner.

In the scene shown below, James and Mel dig in for a police stakeout on the mean streets of New York but are deep in meaningless conversation when thieves hit the location they're watching.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Florida Jewish Film Festivals Feature "Dough" - A Comedy Worth Seeing


February in South Florida isn't just sun, sand, and lectures on Jewish humor. It's also time for Jewish Film Festivals, and we've been doing our fair share of attending premieres of new Jewish films from all over the world. 

Dramas and films with Israel and Holocaust themes are well represented, but we're partial to comedies and we saw one today that we just have to share with you. It's titled Dough and we rate it a must see for laughs and Yiddishe nachas.

Jonathan Pryce (Miss Saigon, Evita, Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones) and Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine) star in this hilarious new comedy that shows you don't have to be baked to make some Dough!

Curmudgeonly widower Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) clings to his way of life as a Kosher bakery shop owner in London’s East End. Understaffed, Nat reluctantly enlists the help of teenager Ayyash (Jerome Holder), who has a secret side gig selling marijuana to help his immigrant mother make ends meet. 

When Ayyash accidentally drops his stash into the mixing dough, the challah starts flying off the shelves and an unlikely friendship forms between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice. Dough is a warmhearted and humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places.

You're lucky if you'll be in South Florida this month, because Dough starts playing on February 12 in theaters from Miami to Lake Worth as follows:

Boca Raton - Living Room Theaters FAU
Boca Raton - Regal Shadowood 16
Delray Beach - Movies of Delray
Lake Worth - Movies of Lake Worth
Tamarac - The Last Picture Show
Fort Lauderdale - The Gateway Theatre
Aventura - AMC Aventura 24
Miami Beach - Regal South Beach 18
Miami - O Cinema Wynwood


We hope you enjoy the trailer below and attend a showing if you're in Florida. Otherwise you'll just have to wait until it comes to theaters nationwide this spring.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

A Joke to Start the Week - "A Brooklyn Boy Tries Gardening"


Another Monday and another Joke to Start the Week.

We're starting off this week with another excerpt from a standup routine by Bob Hertzendorf. Bob has been kind in sharing some of his material with us. We've already posted a few of his jokes on previous Mondays.
 
Today we're posting a brief clip from one of his shows for an audience in Lakewood, New Jersey. In it he talks about his efforts to start gardening with less than ideal results.
 
Bob has appeared on stage in productions of Fiddler on the Roof, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Lend Me a Tenor, Guys and Dolls, and Barefoot in the Park.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Great Jewish Comedians: David Steinberg in Classic Standup Comedy


David Steinberg was born in 1942 and grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. At the age of 16, he left home to study theology at yeshiva. At the University of Chicago, after seeing a performance of The Second City, David was inspired to start a comedy act called Kadish and Steinberg. 

When some Second City members saw David’s act, he was invited to join the company. He stayed for four years. In the late 60’s he moved on to Broadway, starring with Elliot Gould in Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders and Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, directed by Sidney Poitier. 

From there he moved to stand up comedy opening at the Bitter End in 1969. He received a rave review from the The New York Times, calling him a cross between Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen. After his first appearance on the “The Tonight Show”, David became one of Johnny Carson’s most popular guests and guest hosts, with 140 appearances—second only to Bob Hope. In the early ’70s David capped a prolific stand up carreer with four comedy albums, two Grammy nominations, and a successful nightclub act at the Bitter End.

Here's a typical stand-up comedy routine that Steinberg performed in 1975. Enjoy!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Musical Showcase: Meet "The Shuk" and their Uplifting Version of Shalom Aleichem

 
We've been showcasing new Jewish comedians and revisiting some classic old-timers in the six years that Jewish Humor Central has been visible online. Now we're doing the same for Jewish musical groups that are new on the scene and who make music that we like a lot.

Even though The Shuk was formed in 2008, we just came across them this week and we wanted to share their beautiful music with you.
 
What better way to get ready to greet Shabbat this evening than listening to this creative and moving version of the traditional Shalom Aleichem?

Enjoy and Shabbat shalom!
 
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: German Rock Group Rocks Hevenu Shalom Aleichem


We've shared lots of versions of the classic Hebrew song Hevenu Shalom Aleichem with you over the years. But we keep finding new renditions just as we've found many versions of Hava Nagila (over 50) and Hinei Ma Tov.

Here's a rocking performance of Hevenu Shalom Aleichem by a German band called Big Fat Shakin' at the Clarchers Ballhaus, a live music and dance venue in Berlin.

This song really gets around. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rare Jewish Donkey Redemption Ceremony Carried out in Pennsylvania


Last June, the congregants of Ohev Shalom, the National Synagogue in Washington, DC became the latest to witness a rare Pidyon Petter Chamor donkey redemption ceremony (one of the 613 mitzvot in the Torah -- number 277 in the list compiled by Chabad and codified in Exodus 13:13.)

In the ceremony, led by the congregation's Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, the first male offspring of a donkey pregnant for the first time was traded for a sheep as the rabbi and members of the congregation recited prayers and sang and danced their way around the Capital Retreat Center in Pennsylvania.

While the ceremony is rare, it's been performed before, in Melbourne, Australia, in New York's Catskill mountains, and in other locations around the world.

The rationale for the ceremony and a description of the logistics involved in carrying it out were published in the synagogue's bulletin:
What is a Petter Chamor ceremony?
The Torah commands us that if we own a donkey and the first issue of the donkey's womb is a male, then we are required to redeem the donkey by giving a sheep or a goat to a Kohen as a gift (Exodus 13:13; Numbers 18:15).

The Talmud explains that the reason for this mitzvah is because each person who left Egypt had 90 Libyan donkeys to carry their possessions. When we redeem a newborn donkey we are symbolically expressing our gratitude to the donkeys who helped us carry our possessions out of Egypt (Bechorot, 5b).

How did we come to acquire a donkey?
In February 2015, one of our members, Rochel Roth, confirmed that a donkey named Margarita, who lived outside of Baltimore, was pregnant for the very first time. We conducted an ultra-sound test and determined that the fetus was a male.?�?�

Rabbi Herzfeld then traveled with Maharat Ruth Friedman and purchased the donkey. Some members of the congregation responded to our publicity of this project and also participated in the purchase of this donkey. They are considered co-owners of the donkey and the mitzvah is partially theirs as well.

Rabbi Herzfeld and Maharat Friedman were given full funding for the project by Aaron and Ahuva Orlofsky and Ron Kleinfeldt and Barbara Zakheim. Ron has requested that the donkey be named for his father, MC Kleinfeldt, so we are calling the donkey "MC" (short for Moshe Chamor).

The ceremony itself will look a little bit like a pidyon haben ceremony, but with a donkey and a lamb. We are super excited for this project. It is very rare mitzvah to fulfill and we believe that we are the first synagogue in DC history to ever publicly partake in this mitzvah.

It is our hope that this mitzvah will teach us about the importance of expressing gratitude to others and also of the great lengths we must extend ourselves in order to fulfill a mitzvah of Hashem. It is our hope that this mitzvah will inspire us all to come closer to Hashem.

No animals were harmed in this ceremony and after the ceremony the donkey was sent to live on a farm in Baltimore.
(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, February 2, 2016

The Great Jewish Comedians: Rita Rudner on Her Career in Comedy and Las Vegas

 
We count Rita Rudner among the great Jewish comedians because we think she embodies some of their best qualities.

One of the hallmarks of her comedy is that it's clean, free from the vulgarity and shouting that many stand-up comics find necessary.  Sure, there's usually some sexual innuendo (after all, Las Vegas is Las Vegas) but her delivery is demure, tasteful, full of wry observations, and very funny.

Rudner started her career as a dancer, then switched to stand-up comedy about her dating experiences.  She married British producer Martin Bergman about 20 years ago and now they have a daughter.  She is fond of Jewish humor but generally reserves it for when she performs for Jewish audiences.

In this video clip, Rita comments on working in Las Vegas, relationships as the basis for humor, and the way she delivers her jokes, with funny examples.

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.)