When Jews Were Funny

Poster for When Jews Were Funny Insightful and often hilarious, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig surveys the history of Jewish, 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.

90 minutes
Alan Zweig

Shown at

  1. 17th CAJE Miami Jewish Film Festival - 2014
  2. 20th Annual East Bay Jewish Film Festival - 2015
  3. 24th Washington Jewish Film Festival - 2014
  4. Atlanta Jewish Film Festival - 2014
  5. Charlotte Jewish Film Festival - 2014
  6. New York Jewish Film Festival - 2014

6 Responses

  1. jewishfilmfests says:

    When Jews Were Funny: Exploring the defining characteristics of Jewish humour
    “The intentionally provocative title of Alan Zweig’s documentary will make a few people ask, probably a little testily, When did Jews stop being funny?

    Plenty of the comics the Toronto filmmaker sits down with to discuss the idea that Jewish people aren’t as funny as they were back in his Bubby’s day definitely get testy with Zweig, who took home the award for best Canadian feature at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival for this look at the roots of Jewish humour. It’s fun viewing.”

  2. jewishfilmfests says:

    Movie review: When Jews Were Funny lacks focus (with video)
    by Jay Stone
    “Two Jews sit down to talk about something: Jewish humour, maybe, or the disappearance of people who speak Yiddish, or perhaps the lack of grandparents who speak with comical European accents. One of them — Bob Einstein, in fact, who committed comedy under the name of Super Dave Osborne — mentions a typical Jewish subject, which is how embarrassing it is when people with Jewish names do something bad. He says he’s glad Charles Manson wasn’t Jewish.”

  3. jewishfilmfests says:

    TIFF 2013: ‘When Jews Were Funny’ Review
    by Daniel Walber
    “When Jews Were Funny is not so much a title as it is a complaint. Alan Zweig’s new documentary, named the Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, gathers a whole bunch of Jewish comedians together to discuss why Jews aren’t funny anymore. He talked to Shelley Berman, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, Howie Mandel and Marc Maron, just to name a few. The result is a genuinely hilarious but somewhat nebulous conversation. It doesn’t necessarily help that Zweig himself isn’t entirely sure what the film is about.”

  4. jewishfilmfests says:

    TIFF 2013 Review: WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY, A Serious (And Funny) Testament To A Lost Age
    by Jason Gorber
    “Once upon a time, Jews were funny. You’d turn on Ed Sullivan, and some Ashkenaz from the Lower East Side would be kvetching about his wife (please), or slyly kibitzing about slurping soup in a deli.

    Alan Zweig’s documentary makes a bold claim, that 20th Century American comedy is Jewish comedy. Born from Yiddish theatre during the vaudeville age, its the almost Talmudic cadence of performance born from Eastern European immigrants that provides an almost musical delivery to standup comedy. Think of the rhythm of an Alan King, a Rodney Dangerfield, or a Seinfeld, and you get a sense of the Jewish DNA in what generations have considered funny.”

  5. jewishfilmfests says:

    When Jews Were Funny
    By Anthony Kaufman
    “Alan Zweig’s latest documentary When Jews Were Funny doesn’t exactly break new ground on the Jewish question—that is, why are so many comedians Jewish? But it’s still an entertaining and humorous examination of comedy, identity and what it means to be Jewish today, decades after assimilation.”

  6. jewishfilmfests says:

    When Jews Were Funny: Toronto Review
    by John DeFore
    “A comedy-nerd doc whose maker sticks with his preconceptions no matter what his interviewees say, When Jews Were Funny finds Alan Zweig kvetching about a comic sensibility he believes is nearly extinct. Though more polished and enjoyable than When Comedy Went to School, which recently covered similar ground, the doc revolves around Zweig’s personality in a way that limits both its informational value and commercial appeal.”

For information about this film, including how to get a copy of it, please click the DVD, Instant Video, IMDB or website link above.
(This site is not affiliated with the film.)

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