Review: Old Jews Telling Jokes

It isn’t necessarily true that the old ones are the best, but this bunch will take some beating. These two half hour programmes will not be to everyone’s taste however.

Old Jews Telling Jokes is a short series – just two programmes – in BBC4’s All American series. The bad news is that they are on iplayer for only a short while. The good news is that there is actually a website dedicated to the same subject. There are also some short promotional videos on YouTube.

Not all these jokes are Jewish, far from it, and the chances are that you’ve heard a few of them before. The joke about Hitler – surprisingly the only one – was almost certainly not originally a Jewish joke either, at least it wasn’t back in the 1970s when an earlier version was told by at least one British Gentile comedian. A few are a bit risqué – only a few? – but there are some that are clean enough and weak enough to have been told by Tommy Cooper, who would probably have delivered them in a similar style to Charlotte Bornstein, and to even more laughs.

These programmes are literally non-stop gags, so there is not really much to review without killing the surprise. Although he is both an old Jew and a comedian, Jackie Mason was noticeable by his absence, but none of those featured here were regular comedians, although some are no strangers to the media. Jonathan Avirom is an attorney; Judy Blotnick an artist, Lou Charloff a retired actor. No doubt though there are some people who will find some of the jokes herein not simply obscene, but potentially anti-Semitic, but let’s not talk about Abraham Foxman or his bunch of Kosher comedians.

[The above review was first published August 2, 2012 (UK time) not August 1 as shown here.]

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