Old Jews Telling Jokes: Funny? I'll Tell You

Categories: Theater

oldjews460.jpg
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Pulitzer winning Clybourne Park has a handful of offensive but funny jokes sprinkled into its tart stew of a plot to emphasize the strained racial relationships of its lead players.

But Old Jews Telling Jokes--based on the original Internet series created by Sam Hoffman--just has jokes.

No context. No explanation. No point. Just jokes. One after another.

And it's hilarious.

Unlike Clybourne Park, this show is about an ethnic group making fun of itself rather than the other, and doing so with a cheery but droll willingness to please.

As it goes on, serving proverbial rim shot after rim shot, it feels undernourished as theater, but then the next crack will have you giggling all over again and forgetting any theatrical thinness.

The title, first of all, is a joke unto itself. The cast actually includes two young people (Bill Army and Audrey Lynn Weston) in addition to the old-timers (Marilyn Sokol, Lenny Wolpe, and Todd Susman).

All are expert, milking the maximum laughs out of gags involving kvetching, cheapness, marital discord, guilt, and yearning.

After one of those "Let us entertain you" kind of songs, the cast dives into jokes broken down by category ("Childhood," "Dating and Courtship," etc).

Sometimes they'll just face the audience and tell a setup-punchline kind of joke. Other times the joke will be more of a story that takes several performers to act out. (Like the guy stranded on a desert island who wants to have sex with a lamb and...Well, let me not ruin the ending. I'd feel guilty.) And other times they'll perform monologues in which they play a character describing his or her relationship to dark humor.

A sample joke that pops up?

Doctor: "You have cancer and Alzheimer's." Patient: "Well, at least I don't have cancer."

Another one: A man on his deathbed is asked by his son, "Are you comfortable?" The man replies, "I make a living."

Hey, didn't Walter Matthau once say that in real life to Jack Lemmon when Matthau was reclining after an injury? Yes, but he probably stole it because these jokes are really old!

And usually very funny.

Does Old Jews add up to a Pulitzer winning drama?

No way. But it's a painless diversion, even for young goyim.

My Voice Nation Help
39 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
ronniesunshine850
ronniesunshine850

Most of the jokes are old and unoriginal. Despite this, the play has the potential to be decent, if only they would replace the older woman in the play. To the extent that what she does can be characterized as acting, she overacts to an absurd degree. So annoying is her overacting and shrill, affected voice that it is difficult not to drift off the moment she commences speaking any line. As such, I kept missing punch lines because I'd tuned out during the setup.

ronniesunshine850
ronniesunshine850

Most of the jokes are old and unoriginal. Despite this, the play has the potential to be decent, if only they would replace the older woman in the play. To the extent that what she does can be characterized as acting, she overacts to an absurd degree. So annoying is her overacting and shrill, affected voice that it is difficult not to drift off the moment she commences speaking any line. As such, I kept missing punch lines because I'd tuned out during the setup.

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

Do 'Jewish jokes' need to be updated?San Diego Jewish WorldBy Danny Bloom— When I first began to write “TheSilverman Manifesto (2012)”, I had some qualms about how it might ormight not go over ...<http: 05="" 2012="" 24="" do-jewish-jokes-need-to-be-updated="" www.sdjewishworld.com=""></http:>

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

Richard wrote: "Danny, this statement was incredible, and I couldn't agree more... Seriously, just a perfect piece, I too have these same concerns. There's so much in Yiddishkeit that is funny without being degrading, and usually untrue! Genoogshein mit the self-deprecating jokes, we don't have to try and "fit in" anymore!

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

Richard adds: "Danny, it's a pleasure to "meet" you as well. Tonight I will check out that website, The Silverman Manifresto, and if I can help in any way it will be my pleasure to do so. I wish I were more fluent in "Jewish Comedy" than I am, but whatever I can contribute, I will. Enjoy your day!"

lol
lol

Interesting jokes!

danbloom
danbloom

The Silverman Manifesto (2012)

By Silverman EverymanEnough of this self loathing and self hating! Enough of Jewsthemselves denigrating themselves in public showsof comedy or books! Enough of dysfunctional familiesand ghetto Jews from the past! We are now living in 2012and we are no longer dysfunctional people nor do we livein dysfunctional families anymore and Jewish mother jokesand Jewish Princess jokes and distasteful Joan Rivers' AnneFrank jokes should be thrown out the window. The Bronx and Brooklynghettoes are things of the past. Wake up, fellow Jews and castoff your self loathing and self hatred with these terrible jokesabout dysfunctional mothers and weak fathers and antisemitic tropesthat are sometimes even worse than Shakespeare's Merchant of Veniceschtick! Wake up, people!We are a normal people now, successful, middle-class, no longer in theNew York City ghettoes where much of the old sick humor came from.Sure, in the 1930s, those jokes had a purpose. Sure, in the 1950s,after the war, maybe some of those jokes still had a purpose. But now,in 2012, they have no purpose! Those jokes should be retired and youknow exactly what jokes I am talking about!We don't live in dysfunctional families anymore and we have successstories all around, in an entirely new and loving way. It's time for Jewsin America to wake up and smell the new air of happiness and life.It's time to stop the self loathing and self hating Catskills and BorschtBelt jokes of the 1950s and celebrate the joyful reality of 2012. Stand up and createa new kind of warm, life enhancing and positive humor that goes beyondthe old stereotypes of yore. Rise up and rejoice, O Jews of America,you have nothing to lose but your long-suffering neuroses. We are  no longer a neurotic people. Stop the Jewish mother jokes, stop the JAP jokes, stopthe sick Anne Frank jokes (and books!), stop the dysfunctional family jokes,stop the victimization. We are no longer victims. We have made it. Wake upand celebrate success, joy, happiness, normalness.Enough already. We are normal. We have arrived. Leave the past alone. Whereit belongs. Stop the Jews are cheap jokes; some of the most philanthropicpeople on Earth are American Jews: they build hospitals, museums, fund scientific research, professorships,educational initiatives. Focus on the good and the positive; leave the past where it belongs: in the past!Wake up and smell the sunshine. We don't all live in the Bronx or Brooklyn anymore, or Queensor Beverly Hills. American Jews must evolve. Be nice, all ye who are comedians and humorwriters. Respect yourselves. Respect what we have become now in 2012. Stop the old, out-datedstereotypes. We can write a new chapter in American Jewish history in the creative artsof comedy and film and literature and it does not have to be Portnoy's Complaint anymore.Nor does it have to be Old Jews Telling Jokes off-Broadway anymore. Mirror the present,stop mirroring the dysfunctional ghetto past. Get past the past! Embrace the now!

danbloom
danbloom

From Shakespeare Merchant of Venice and even before and now even Jews in this antiJewish play tell the cheapskate jokes. ! WHen does this stop? who will stop it? I am writing "The SIlverman Manifesto" right now about this very subject, a short 800 word manifesto adn i wll post it here soon. READY? It's a call to Jews themselves to STOP this antisemitic and selfloathing and self hating in movies, jokes and books, incldying Joan Rivers disgusting ANNE FRANK jokes. What's wrong with some Jews that they like to wallow in this crap from long ago. We are no longer dysfunctional ghetto Yids. We are no longer kikes. Wake up people! This is a call to arms.

Dan bloom
Dan bloom

OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES: the PLAY: THE VIEW FROM TAIWAN

Front row virtual review coming soon, pro and con.''......Occasionally, however,the sexism in the show produced by Daniel Okrent and Peter Gethers is glaring and the Jewish mamma stereotypes are moreannoying than amusing. .......''

Drew
Drew

There is truth to stereotypes hence "Jewish Jokes"  can be rather amusing 

*Dominant Mothers*Cheap

and did I say Dominant Mothers

Dan bloom
Dan bloom

OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES: the PLAY: THE VIEW FROM TAIWAN

Front row virtual review coming soon, pro and con.''......Occasionally, however,the sexism in the show produced by Daniel Okrent and Peter Gethers is glaring and the Jewish mamma stereotypes are moreannoying than amusing. .......''

Dan bloom
Dan bloom

Jews are NOT cheap. they are some of the most philanthropic people on Earth. How did this cheapskate steroetupe begin? Antisemitic people started it. and the jewish mother thing. 99 percent of Jewish moms are angels and wonderul only 1 percent were dysfucntional ghetto aunties......these JOKES most go. WAKE UP PEEOPLE. you only feed the antisemtiis out there like DREW, see?

Pops
Pops

It started with Shakespeare. (Merchant of Venice). And even way before that.

danbloom
danbloom

POPS this one's for you: The Silverman Manifesto (2012)By Silverman EverymanEmail: bubbie.zadie@gmail.comEnough of this self loathing and self hating! Enough of Jewsthemselves denigrating themselves in public showsof comedy or books! Enough of dysfunctional familiesand ghetto Jews from the past! We are now living in 2012and we are no longer dysfunctional people nor do we livein dysfunctional families anymore and Jewish mother jokesand Jewish Princess jokes and distasteful Joan Rivers' AnneFrank jokes should be thrown out the window. The Bronx and Brooklynghettoes are things of the past. Wake up, fellow Jews and castoff your self loathing and self hatred with these terrible jokesabout dysfunctional mothers and weak fathers and antisemitic tropesthat are sometimes even worse than Shakespeare's Merchant of Veniceschtick! Wake up, people!We are a normal people now, successful, middle-class, no longer in theNew York City ghettoes where much of the old sick humor came from.Sure, in the 1930s, those jokes had a purpose. Sure, in the 1950s,after the war, maybe some of those jokes still had a purpose. But now,in 2012, they have no purpose! Those jokes should be retired and youknow exactly what jokes I am talking about!We don't live in dysfunctional families anymore and we have successstories all around, in an entirely new and loving way. It's time for Jewsin America to wake up and smell the new air of happiness and life.It's time to stop the self loathing and self hating Catskills and BorschtBelt jokes of the 1950s and celebrate the joyful reality of 2012. Stand up and createa new kind of warm, life enhancing and positive humor that goes beyondthe old stereotypes of yore. Rise up and rejoice, O Jews of America,you have nothing to lose but your long-suffering neuroses. We are  no longer a neurotic people. Stop the Jewish mother jokes, stop the JAP jokes, stopthe sick Anne Frank jokes (and books!), stop the dysfunctional family jokes,stop the victimization. We are no longer victims. We have made it. Wake upand celebrate success, joy, happiness, normalness.Enough already. We are normal. We have arrived. Leave the past alone. Whereit belongs. Stop the Jews are cheap jokes; some of the most philanthropicpeople on Earth are American Jews: they build hospitals, museums, fund scientific research, professorships,educational initiatives. Focus on the good and the positive; leave the past where it belongs: in the past!Wake up and smell the sunshine. We don't all live in the Bronx or Brooklyn anymore, or Queensor Beverly Hills. American Jews must evolve. Be nice, all ye who are comedians and humorwriters. Respect yourselves. Respect what we have become now in 2012. Stop the old, out-datedstereotypes. We can write a new chapter in American Jewish history in the creative artsof comedy and film and literature and it does not have to be Portnoy's Complaint anymore.Nor does it have to be Old Jews Telling Jokes off-Broadway anymore. Mirror the present,stop mirroring the dysfunctional ghetto past. Get past the past! Embrace the now!

danbloom
danbloom

well said , Pops. From Shakespeare and before and now even Jews in this antiJewish play tell the cheapskate jokes. ! WHen does this stop? who will stop it? I am writing "The SIlverman Manifesto" right now about this very subject, a short 800 word manifesto adn i wll post it here soon. READY? It's a call to Jews themselves to STOP this antisemitic and selfloathing and self hating in movies, jokes and books, incldying Joan Rivers disgusting ANNE FRANK jokes. What's wrong with some Jews that they like to wallow in this crap from long ago. We are no longer dysfunctional ghetto Yids. We are no longer kikes. Wake up people! This is a call to arms.

Dan bloom
Dan bloom

see? People like DREW come here with their Neo Nazi white supremacist crapola and spout this antisem stuff. see? this is outdated tasteless Jewish jokes lead to.

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

the website rocks. the play exhausts. good try, but no cigar....

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

The new revue “Old Jews Telling Jokes” is inspired by the Web siteof the same name — which consists of a parade of elderly cut-upsdelivering jokes.But unlike the Web, which you can leave after a ba-dum-bump or three,an off-Broadway show holds you hostage. And no matter how funny thematerial is here, 90 minutes worth of doctor visits and “oy, my wife!”is exhausting.

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

If theproduction had incorporated other classic old Jewish comics doingshtick (Allan Sherman? Mickey Katz? Mel Brooks?) into the production,it might have contextualized some of the humor. Instead, too often OldJews Telling Jokes feels like a night of community theater put on foran Upper West Side nursing home. B–

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

Most of the jokes are funny and LOL humorous. But some of the jokesare part of Jewish selfhatred and stereotyping even by Jews themselvesand these off-color selfhating jokes should be, IMHO, taken out of theother funny play. These bad jokes are mostly New York City Jewishselfloathing jokes and do not speak to Jews or non-Jews in the rest ofthe world. Be careful what you put out there, the Neo Nazis arewatching and posting on their sites. Example - Another one: “Why don’tJewish mothers drink? They don’t want to dull the pain.” Many willrecognize these jokes (the drink joke sometimes ends with the inferior“Alcohol interferes with their suffering”), NOT ALL JEWISH MOTHERSSUFFER LIKE THE OLD STEREOTYPE AND THIS IS MERELY NYC HUMOR. GET RIDOF THAT JOKE. it's anti woman and antisemitic in fact. Jewish mothersare wonderful and the suffering stereotype is from LONG AGo. not now.and this joke -- The section “Business and Money” includes some shtickabout an ill-advised marketing campaign featuring Jesus on the crosswith the slogan, “They used Levenson’s nails.” And “Assimilation”features an excellent gag in which two Jews pass a Roman Catholicchurch advertising to pay converts $50. One man goes in and when heexits after 20 minutes, his friend asks if he got his money. “Is thatall you people think about?” he responds. THIS IS ALSO SELF LOATHINGAND ANTISEMITIC. why put it in the show?

It's only a joke
It's only a joke

 So how many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a light bulb? ... Don't worry about me ... I'll sit in the dark! lighten up man! we can all use an extra laugh.

Drew
Drew

Playing the Victim....gotta love the Jewish Community

 "OMG that's Anti-Semitism" LOL

Dan bloom
Dan bloom

People like DREW come here with their Neo Nazi white supremacist crapola and spout this antisem stuff. see? this is outdated tasteless Jewish jokes lead to.

Musto
Musto

SPOILER ALERT!

I'll just give one more:

Doctor: What do you want first--the bad news or the really bad news?

Patient: The bad news.

Doctor: You have only 24 hours left to live.

Patient: And what's the really bad news?

Doctor: I couldn't reach you yesterday.

Musto
Musto

Here's a famous old one from the show:

Woman to friend: My husband gave me flowers! Now I'm going to have to lay on my back with my legs spread for a week!

Friend: What--you don't have a vase?

Guest
Guest

How about this one: Shlomo and Sarah go to bed, but Shlomo is tossing and turning and can't sleep. Sarah is asking him "what's wrong?" Shlomo tells her that he borrowed 100 dollars until tomorrow from Moshe, but he won't be able to pay. Sarah knocks on the wall separating their and Moshe's apartment and says "Hey Moshe, Shlomo can't repay you 100 dollars back."  She then turns to Shlomo and say "now let Moshe toss and turn, it's his problem now."

Myriam_Breitman
Myriam_Breitman

A Jewish son calls his mother on the phone and asks her how she is doing. She says "absolutely terrible, I haven't eaten in two weeks." The son asks "why haven't you eating in two weeks?".  The Jewish mother responds "I was waiting for you to call and I didn't want to have my mouth full when you did."

Myriam_Breitman
Myriam_Breitman

A Jew finds himself and an inhabited island. He builds two synagogues. When rescued, he gets asked why did he need two synagogues just for him.  He explains "the one to the right, is the one I use, the one of the left - I will never set foot in that abomination of a synagogue."

Musto
Musto

That one is in the show.

Guest
Guest

Funny. I did not see the show. It's just a Jewish classic. 

billyjoe
billyjoe

Jewish jokes about Gentiles:

Gentile walks into a Jewish clothing store and asks the owner, "How much for the leather jacket?"

"Only $500," says the owner.

Gentile responds, "I'll take it."

Drew
Drew

old Jewsold Christiansold Hindusold Muslims

blah blah blah.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

I agree! Marilyn Sokol is one of the funniest comic actresses around.

And Todd Susman?I remember him when he was a young actor on TV!

Nothing funnier than old Jewish jokes. Just ask Mel Brooks.

A great source for them is Liz Smith's "The Mother Book."

Ulu
Ulu

Love me some Marilyn Sokol! 

Ick
Ick

I'm old goyim but it sounds like I'd like this.Thanks.

facebook-749911534
facebook-749911534

Richard wrote: "Danny, this statement was incredible, and I couldn't agree more... Seriously, just a perfect piece, I too have these same concerns. There's so much in Yiddishkeit that is funny without being degrading, and usually untrue! Genoogshein mit the self-deprecating jokes, we don't have to try and "fit in" anymore!

danbloom
danbloom

The Silverman Manifesto (2012)By Silverman EverymanEmail: bubbie.zadie@gmail.comEnough of this self loathing and self hating! Enough of Jewsthemselves denigrating themselves in public showsof comedy or books! Enough of dysfunctional familiesand ghetto Jews from the past! We are now living in 2012and we are no longer dysfunctional people nor do we livein dysfunctional families anymore and Jewish mother jokesand Jewish Princess jokes and distasteful Joan Rivers' AnneFrank jokes should be thrown out the window. The Bronx and Brooklynghettoes are things of the past. Wake up, fellow Jews and castoff your self loathing and self hatred with these terrible jokesabout dysfunctional mothers and weak fathers and antisemitic tropesthat are sometimes even worse than Shakespeare's Merchant of Veniceschtick! Wake up, people!We are a normal people now, successful, middle-class, no longer in theNew York City ghettoes where much of the old sick humor came from.Sure, in the 1930s, those jokes had a purpose. Sure, in the 1950s,after the war, maybe some of those jokes still had a purpose. But now,in 2012, they have no purpose! Those jokes should be retired and youknow exactly what jokes I am talking about!We don't live in dysfunctional families anymore and we have successstories all around, in an entirely new and loving way. It's time for Jewsin America to wake up and smell the new air of happiness and life.It's time to stop the self loathing and self hating Catskills and BorschtBelt jokes of the 1950s and celebrate the joyful reality of 2012. Stand up and createa new kind of warm, life enhancing and positive humor that goes beyondthe old stereotypes of yore. Rise up and rejoice, O Jews of America,you have nothing to lose but your long-suffering neuroses. We are  no longer a neurotic people. Stop the Jewish mother jokes, stop the JAP jokes, stopthe sick Anne Frank jokes (and books!), stop the dysfunctional family jokes,stop the victimization. We are no longer victims. We have made it. Wake upand celebrate success, joy, happiness, normalness.Enough already. We are normal. We have arrived. Leave the past alone. Whereit belongs. Stop the Jews are cheap jokes; some of the most philanthropicpeople on Earth are American Jews: they build hospitals, museums, fund scientific research, professorships,educational initiatives. Focus on the good and the positive; leave the past where it belongs: in the past!Wake up and smell the sunshine. We don't all live in the Bronx or Brooklyn anymore, or Queensor Beverly Hills. American Jews must evolve. Be nice, all ye who are comedians and humorwriters. Respect yourselves. Respect what we have become now in 2012. Stop the old, out-datedstereotypes. We can write a new chapter in American Jewish history in the creative artsof comedy and film and literature and it does not have to be Portnoy's Complaint anymore.Nor does it have to be Old Jews Telling Jokes off-Broadway anymore. Mirror the present,stop mirroring the dysfunctional ghetto past. Get past the past! Embrace the now!

Loading...