Who knows an old Jew who tells jokes? If you have missed out on your share of such jokes and need ninety minutes of engaging, earthy jokes then head to the Westside Theatre in New York City to see the Off-Broadway show, Old Jews Telling Jokes. The show began as a very popular web site where — you guessed it — old Jews tell jokes.
As you wait for the production to begin you will be entertained by music — some Yiddish, some in English. The Yiddish rendition of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head was a delightful prelude to the show as was a country rendition of Dreydl, Dreydl, Dreydl I Made You Out of Clay.
Created by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent, Old Jews Telling Jokes showcases five actors in a revue that pays tribute to and reinvents classic jokes. New songs composed by Adam Gwon add to the show's fun, upbeat air. You will hear jokes about religion, assimilation, sex before marriage, after marriage ("you should live so long") and during marriage. Most of these jokes are in the form of long involved stories, which are marvelously engaging. The actors (Bill Army, Marilyn Sokol, Todd Susman, Lenny Wolpe and Audrey Lynn Weston) sing and they will ask you to sing along as well. They deliver the material with a grace and ease that is a delight to behold.
The intimate Westside Theatre was filled with Jews, more old than young, some accompanied by grandkids. The comments from the audience members were often as funny as the jokes up on the stage. An older woman with a heavy Yiddish accent sitting behind me comments to a joke about a man who goes every day for forty years to the Wailing Wall to pray.And how do you feel about this, a local journalist asks him? "Like I'm talking to a [expletive] wall." "Det vas good" the woman sitting behind me says to her husband, to whom she had to repeat the jokes, because he was hard of hearing.
One of the players says: there is no inappropriate moment for humor. The 90 minute show, accompanied by live piano (Donald Corren), is time well spent listening, kvelling, laughing to the often bawdy, sexy, irreverent Jewish humor that has come to be a distinctly American form of humor. From Mel Brooks to Woody Allen, from Larry David to Sarah Silverman Jews have been telling jokes about their status, their sex, and all the intimate details that make up life. "I love it, I love it. Ach — this I really love!" kvells the Yiddish accented bubby sitting behind me. And so will you.
Westside Theatre (downstairs) 407 West 43rd Street (between 9th and 10th street)
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