The latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig surveys the history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt to the present, ultimately exploring not just ethnicity in the entertainment industry, but also the entire unruly question of what it means to be Jewish.
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A fun if not befuddled and disjointed documentary. I love Jewish humor so I was in my element and the interviews were great. I felt like a lot of the greats were passed over but it was a fun watch nonetheless. Lots of great archival footage, too.
Alan Zweig after several memorable documentaries including 'I, Curmudgeon' and 'Vinyl' has spun his best self reflective work yet. 'When Jews Were Funny' looks for a lost Jewishness in the filmmaker's recollection of humour and in the younger mostly assimilated Jewish comedians of today. A score of talent is interviewed who are as unsure of the filmmaker's purpose as he is...and yes that's a compliment. Great.
Director's own anxieties cause distraction but still I enjoyed watching it. One of the guys says:" Jews always bring back to it…We are so loud…we are self-obsessed…look at you, you brought a camera crew to discuss your Judaism…What Christian in the world is running around with a camera crew “talk to me about being Christian” … no one cares!”