Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Great Jewish Entertainers: "Let's Make a Deal" Host Monty Hall Reflects on Yiddish in Hollywood


Our series on The Great Jewish Comedians has blossomed into a lecture that's now one of the most popular on our lecture circuit. We're adding new comedians to it and it's scheduled to become a four week series at Florida Atlantic University in February 2019.

Meanwhile we're working on a new series called The Great Jewish Entertainers, going beyond comedy to all forms of entertainment. Today we're profiling Monte Halparin, who you might recognize as Monty Hall, host of the 1970s TV game show Let's Make a Deal.

Hall, who was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1921 to Orthodox Jewish parents, celebrated his 96th birthday last week. In 2014 he was interviewed as part of the Wexler Oral History Project at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. 

In the interview, he speaks about his surprise and joy at finding fluent Yiddish speakers in Hollywood, including the great Danny Kaye and non-Jewish stars like James Cagney and Burt Lancaster.

Here's the interview, followed by a Throwback Thursday bonus -- a short clip from Let's Make a Deal that's more than 40 years old.

Enjoy!

A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  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.





#Throwback Thursday   #TBT

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Maccabeats Release Hebrew/English Version of Pop Hit "Despacito"


Despacito (English: "Slowly") is a single by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi featuring Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee from the former's upcoming studio album. 

On January 12, 2017, Universal Music Latin released "Despacito" and its music video, which shows both artists performing the song in La Perla neighborhood of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and the local bar La Factoría. The song's music video is the first video to reach over three billion views on YouTube. 

The Maccabeats, originally formed in 2007 as Yeshiva University’s student vocal group, have just released a Hebrew/English version of Despacito.

The original Spanish version (shown in this link with Hebrew subtitles) is a reggaeton-pop song composed in common time with lyrics about having a sexual relationship, performed in a smooth and romantic way. It became the first song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) in 1996.

The words of the Maccabeats English/Hebrew version, originally recorded by Amram Adar and Itzik Shamli, are not a translation of the Spanish lyrics, but advice about learning to savor every moment slowly and trust in God when you feel like you're being pulled in all directions.

The complete English/Hebrew lyrics appear just below the video. Enjoy! 

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 Lyrics

Like being pulled in all directions
Tryin’ to be thankful for my blessings, yeah
It’s like I never learn my lesson, yeah
I need a sunrise on my darkest day
Quit this feeling I just can’t shake
Learn how to savor every moment slowly, slowly

אם אתה מרגיש שאתה כל הזמן רוצה,
להספיק הכל פשוט תזכור,
כי הכל כתוב מלמעלה אז תנסה,
סמוך על הבורא הכל יכול,

שוב,יש תנועה בדרך אל העבודה,
אתה רץ לא לאחר אל הפגישה,
ואולי מרגיש שכל יום כמו מרוץ פה,
גם,גם אם אתה קצת מתוסכל
ונראה לך שזהו המזל,
בטח בשם ותאמין בו

דספסיטו
קח את החיים שלך בדספסיטו,
כל דבר בזמן שלו יבוא קרידו,
וכל עכבה זה טוב רק תאמין בו,

לאן כולם רצים לאן? תגידו?
תרגל מהגז תורידו,
החיים יפים תביטו...
לאן כולם ממהרים לאן תגידו תרגל מהגז תורידו
החיים יפים תביטו

דספסיטו,
קח את החיים שלך, בדספסיטו,
כל דבר בזמן שלו יבוא קרידו,
וכל עכבה זה טוב רק תאמין בו,

ואז פתאום תראה שלעבוד,
בלי לחצים אפשר ללמוד,
הכל יהיה פשוט מאוד,
אחרת איך אפשר לשרוד,
את החיים שלך תתחיל לקחת בקלות,
זמן זה כסף אך בלי אושר אין לו משמעות תלות,
עצור לחשוב לפני שתאחר את הרכבת, הילדים גודלים ומה נישאר רק המזכרת,
תגיד להם איזו מילה טובה ותחבק,
יש רגעים שבשבילם תתנתק,
ניסית ניסית, מה שלא עשית,
את הכל רצית,
בנית בנית,
מה שלא ראית, איך שהזמן עובר כאן
ולא יחזור שוב לאחור
לחייך.

אם אתה מרגיש שאתה כל הזמן רוצה,
להספיק הכל פשוט תזכור...

דספסיטו,
קח את החיים שלך בדספסיטו,
כל דבר בזמן שלו יבוא קרידו,
וכל עכבה זה טוב רק תאמין בו,
דספסיטו

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Conan O'Brien's El Al Encounter en Route to Israel - Second of a Series


Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien is spending a week in Israel filming a Conan Without Borders travel show to be aired in September.

We're following his antics as he boards an El Al plane and brings his comedy to Israel.

In this video clip, second of the series, he has an encounter with the toilet on an El Al plane in flight. After spending an hour and a half in the toilet to get a suitable video sequence, he offers some very creative interpretations of the Hebrew words on the towel disposal bin and lotion dispenser. Meanwhile, an El Al passenger, not known for patience, bangs on the door repeatedly to try to gain access.

We'll be sharing more of his funny videos with you over the next few weeks. Next episode: The Tel Aviv skyline and shakshuka.

Enjoy!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

A Joke to Start the Week - "The New Citizen"


In the last few weeks we've been posting jokes that we recorded at the Eisenberg Berkshire Hills Adult Vacation Center, where we returned for our third year of Jewish humor lectures for the seniors who come to the mountains for a summer vacation. We discovered that it's a great place to find new joke telling talent.

And we found some good jokes, such as the ones told by Naomi Goldstein, a senior citizen coordinator from New York who is now retired and living in Florida. 

We posted her Mozart on the Bus joke two weeks ago. This week she's back with another one. 

Here's the setup for today's joke: Abie comes to this country. He's a tailor, and all he wants is to become a citizen. So he works very hard and studies very hard. And then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Conan O'Brien Heads to Israel on El Al - First of a Series


Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien is planning a Conan Without Borders travel show on Israel and will be filming it this week. 

We'll be following his antics as he boards an El Al plane and brings his comedy to Israel. 

Here is the video clip of his show where he announces his plans for the prime time special to be released in September.

We'll be sharing some of his funny videos with you over the next few weeks.

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, August 25, 2017

Welcoming Shabbat with Adon Olam from the Jewish Culture Festival in Poland


The Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland is an annual cultural event organized since 1988 in the once Jewish district of Kazimierz (part of Krakow) by the Jewish Culture Festival Society headed by Janusz Makuch

The main goal of the festival is to educate people about Jewish culture, history and faith  which flourished in Poland before the Holocaust, as well as to familiarize them with modern Jewish culture developing mostly in the United States and Israel, and finally, to provide entertainment.

Each festival is held in late June or early July and takes nine days, from Saturday to Sunday. During that time concerts, exhibitions, plays, lectures, workshops, tours, etc. are organized.

At this year's festival, Kolot Min Hashamayim (Voices from Heaven), a boys' choir from Haifa, Israel, participated and sang songs including this version of Adon Olam, which we hope you'll enjoy as much as we did.

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, August 24, 2017

Throwback Thursday Comedy Special: Martin and Lewis Meet Martin and Louis


During a week of tributes to Jerry Lewis we thought our Throwback Thursday comedy special should include a return to one of the funny episodes of the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis show.

This one goes back 65 years to 1952. Dean and Jerry are reviewing old episodes and come upon one in which their fans are waiting at LaGuardia Airport for their arrival. They are upstaged by another Martin and Louis emerging first from the airplane.

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, August 23, 2017

Remembering Jerry Lewis with a Classic Appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show


Writing a short tribute to Jerry Lewis is a challenge because the comedian, actor, singer, producer, director, screenwriter, and humanitarian who died on Sunday at the age of 91 left behind so many and varied forms of entertainment on so many media that it's hard to pick one that demonstrates the range of his talent.

Lewis left his mark on motion pictures, nightclubs, television shows, concerts, album recordings, and musicals. He achieved greatness in show business, but his career got off to a modest start.

As Gary Susman wrote in Vanity Fair
Lewis was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926 in Newark, the only child of two Borscht Belt performers—his father was a Catskills emcee, his mother a piano player. Young Joey was an occasional part of the act from age five. Still, his parents were often away on the road. They even missed his bar mitzvah. By 15, he’d taken a stage name and developed his own comedy routine, lip-synching to records played offstage.
Lewis’s big break came in 1946 in Atlantic City, where one of the singers on his bill dropped out at the last minute. As a replacement, Lewis suggested Dean Martin, a singer he’d met a couple of years earlier. When they’d shared a bill at a Manhattan nightclub, the two would playfully disrupt each other’s act, but in Atlantic City, they turned those ad-libbed disruptions into a planned routine, and the result shot them both to stardom as the most successful comedy duo of all time.
Throughout his entire adult life and career, Lewis was a world-renowned humanitarian who supported fundraising for research into muscular dystrophy. Over nearly half a century, he raised over $2.6 billion in donations for the cause.

As an example of Lewis' comedy, we selected a video clip from an appearance with Ed Sullivan in 1961, when he engaged in some comedic banter with the impresario and ended with a medley of Al Jolson songs.

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, August 22, 2017

The Great Jewish Comedians: Larry David in a Stand-up Routine


We don't usually think of Larry David as a stand-up comedian. He's mostly known as the co-creator of the Seinfeld show and creator and performer in his Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO comedy series. But before these successes he made the rounds of stand-up comedy clubs. 

In 1989 David teamed up with comedian Jerry Seinfeld to create a pilot for NBC called The Seinfeld Chronicles, which became the basis for Seinfeld, one of the most successful shows in history, reaching the top of TV Guide's list of the 50 greatest TV shows of all time. Entertainment Weekly ranked it the third-best TV show of all time. 

David made occasional uncredited appearances on the show, playing such roles as Frank Costanza's cape-wearing lawyer and the voice of George Steinbrenner. He was also the primary inspiration for the show's character George Costanza. David left Seinfeld on friendly terms after the seventh season but returned to write the series finale in 1998, two years later. He also continued to provide the voice for the Steinbrenner character.

From time to time he returned to do a stand-up routine. In this clip from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 2005 he sets out to explain his conversion to environmentalism, but brings down the house with his hilarious observations and his description of his lifelong love affair with tuna fish sandwiches.

(ADULT HUMOR WARNING: Larry uses some pejorative anatomical language that some of our readers may find mildly offensive, but we judge it to be acceptable for Jewish Humor Central. The audience at this show found it highly entertaining.)

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Monday, August 21, 2017

A Joke to Start the Week - "Ours is Prettier"


Our suntan from spending a week at the Eisenberg Berkshire Hills Adult Vacation Center hasn't worn off yet, and neither have the jokes that we recorded while we were there earlier this month. 

Bob Epstein, a retired Assistant Principal in the New York City School System, entertained guests with his wide collection of stories and jokes, and we still have a few more to share with you.

Here's the setup for this week's joke: Harry and Sadie have been married for quite a long time. Sadie goes into a restaurant one day and she sees her husband at a table with a young woman. 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.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Menashe: A Poignant Funny New Film in Yiddish with English Subtitles and Non-Actors


Last week we saw Menashe, an unusual film directed by Joshua Weinstein and starring Hasidic comedian Menashe Lustig in the title role. Filmed in New York's Hasidic community using non-actors who speak entirely in Yiddish (with English subtitles). It's getting great reviews and we urge you to see it before it disappears from the theaters.

As Nick Allen wrote in his review on RogerEbert.com,
Weinstein captures Menashe’s turmoil with utmost sincerity and stunning control. Adding to its neorealist flavor, intimate cinematography places us in Menashe's cramped apartment, (where he can only feed his son soda and cake for breakfast) or in the middle of his tense meetings with The Ruv. And every now and then, a moment of meditation is offered by a gorgeous melodic motif (from a score credited to Aaron Martin and Daq Rosenqvist), inhaling and exhaling with just a few notes. Rarely has ordinary clumsiness been treated with such heart or beauty.
“Menashe” is tenderly paced and expressed, though it is also tense in its own way. And yet while the movie is full of a characters’ stress, it is not dominated by that feeling like so many other movies that show people squirming through the worst days of their lives. Instead, “Menashe” transcends its anxieties and becomes wholly comforting, like the closest that art can come to offering a big hug. What an extraordinary feeling to watch a movie that essentially wraps its arms around you and says, It’s okay, buddy. We’ve all been there.
Menashe is now playing in theaters in many cities. Check your local listings for showtimes, and enjoy! 

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcoming Shabbat with V'Shamru by Cantor Azi Schwartz of the Park Avenue Synagogue


Every Friday we try to post a song from the Shabbat liturgy to greet the weekly day of rest. These songs generally include Shalom Aleichem, Lecha Dodi, and Adon Olam

Today's Shabbat song is V'Shamru, part of the Friday night and Shabbat morning services. It is taken from Exodus 31:16-17. Shabbat is created to give us rest and to restore the soul. “Vayinafash” is from the Hebrew word “nefesh” (soul). Shabbat is the promise that there will be a time of peace for all people. As God guards us, we guard Shabbat.

וְשָׁמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת, לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹרֹתָם בְּרִית עוֹלָם. בֵּינִי וּבֵן בְּנֵי יִשׂרָאֵל אוֹת הִיא לְעֹלָם. כִּי שֵֽׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יהוה אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאֳרֶץ, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ.

The children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations as a covenant for all time. It is a sign forever between Me and people of Israel. For in six days the Eternal One made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God ceased from work and rested.

In this video, Azi Schwartz, cantor of the Conservative Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, leads the congregation in singing V'Shamru.

Shabbat shalom.  

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday Comedy Special: Harpo Marx and Lucille Ball in the Mirror Scene


The Marx Brothers were a great team in all of their movies, but each brother was a comedian in his own right. Harpo got a chance to show off his comedic talents in this sketch that he did with Lucille Ball in an episode of I Love Lucy.

This episode, originally in black and white, was colorized. It's a takeoff on the famous scene with Groucho Marx in the 1933 film Duck Soup, one of the Marx Brothers' funniest. It comes from an old vaudeville routine used by other mimes.

The premise of the episode is that Lucy promises nearsighted Carolyn Appleby she’ll meet some Hollywood celebrities. To fulfill the boast she dresses up as a few such as Clark Gable, Gary Cooper as well as Harpo Marx. The real Harpo shows up for this great mirror scene.

Harpo, born Adolph Marx in 1888, got his stage name during a card game at the Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg, Illinois. The dealer called him "Harpo" because he played the harp. He learned how to hold it properly from a picture of an angel playing a harp that he saw in a five-and-dime store.

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.



 #Throwback Thursday   #TBT

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Documentary on Curious George's Jewish Creators is Now Available on Home Media


A year ago, we wrote about plans to make a documentary about Hans and Margret Rey, the husband-and-wife team behind the multimillion-selling Curious George children's books.

The 75 minute documentary, produced and directed by Ema Ryan Yamazaki and narrated by Sam Waterston is now complete. 

It had its first screening at the Manhattan JCC last week, and yesterday it was released for home viewing on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Kaleidescape, FandangoNow, Xbox, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, Suddenlink, Mediacom, WOW!, Midcontinent, Metrocast, Clearleap, RCN, Telus (CA), Virgin Media (UK), Globosat (LATAM), Dish, and DirecTV.

Curious George is the most popular monkey in the world. Since his introduction in the first publication in 1941, the beloved series has sold over 75 million books in more than 25 languages. 

The MONKEY BUSINESS documentary explores the lesser-known tale of George’s creators, Hans and Margret Rey. Originally from Hamburg, Germany, the Reys first met when Hans was dating Margret’s older sister. Years later, having heard that Hans was wasting his artistic talents as a bookkeeper in Rio, Margret traveled to Brazil to persuade him to marry her and do something creative together. After their four-week honeymoon to Paris turned into a four-year residency, they accidentally became children’s book authors when a publisher suggested they create a book out of a cartoon Hans had drawn. 

Being German Jews, however, their life in Paris abruptly came to an end in June 1940 when the Reys were forced to escape from the Nazis by riding makeshift bicycles—a manuscript of the first Curious George book was one of the few possessions they could smuggle out with them. Arriving in New York as refugees, they started their life anew and over the next three decades they created a classic that continues to touch the hearts and minds of children around the world.

Here is the official trailer for the documentary. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Concord and Grossinger's Are On Their Way to Reopening in the Catskills


Resorts World Catskills
Artist's Rendering of the New Resorts World in Kiamesha Lake
The glory days of' the Borscht Belt and the Catskill Hotels in New York came to a sad end in the 1980s. Now, 30 years later, signs of hope are beginning to appear.

Current plans don't envision the return of the Concord and Grossinger's Hotels as the kosher getaways that flourished from the 1940s to the 1980s, but activity is picking up on the site of both hotels.

Construction of a new Resorts World casino hotel on the site of The Concord in Kiamesha Lake is well underway with a planned opening in March 2018. Meanwhile, 13 miles away in Liberty, the sleeping giant of Grossinger's is stirring, crumbling buildings and all.

As Sarah Maslin Nir reported in The New York Times last week,
In the spring, Louis R. Cappelli, a Westchester-based real estate developer who has owned the complex for two decades, applied to the State Department of Environmental Conservation requesting that a portion of the property be designated a brownfield, or contaminated site. The former resort is now a hodgepodge of scores of crumbling buildings on hundreds of acres, land he says is laden with chemicals spilled by dry-cleaning and machine repair shops. Such a designation would make the property eligible for state funds to help with remediation of the soil and groundwater, a necessary first step, Mr. Cappelli says, to bring back the world-class resort.
Mr. Cappelli, who bought the place in 1999, more than a decade after the Grossinger family had ceased operations, envisions a grand future: a conference center, housing, spa and chalet-style lodging. It is a bet that piggybacks on the crowds that he hopes will come to the Resorts World Casino, a $750 million complex opening next year in another former borscht belt destination, the Concord Resort Hotel in nearby Kiamesha Lake.
Here are two videos, one depicting the high hopes of area residents when the casino license was awarded to the hotel being built on the Concord property, and another report from a local TV station on the current state of the Grossinger's property.

Here's hoping!

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Monday, August 14, 2017

A Joke to Start the Week - "Mozart on the Bus"


Last Monday we posted a joke by Bob Epstein that we recorded at the Eisenberg Berkshire Hills Adult Vacation Center, where we returned for our third year of Jewish humor lectures for the seniors who come to the mountains for a summer vacation. We discovered that it's a great place to find new joke telling talent.

And we found some good jokes, well delivered by Naomi Goldstein, a senior citizen coordinator from New York who is now retired and living in Florida. We have a few more jokes from Naomi that we'll keep in reserve like fine wine, and we'll bring them out to share in a few weeks.

Here's the setup for today's joke: Abie and Becky move up from the Bronx. They come to this classy neighborhood, and all they want to do is try to make friends. 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.