Jews: Not Funny Anymore


You want we should make you laugh? “Too late!” says When Jews Were Funny, a new documentary by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Alan Zweig. Named the Best Canadian Feature Film at its 2013 Toronto International Film Festival debut, the film covers the gamut of Jewish comedy, from its Borscht Belt beginnings to the present. And it all begins with a question: “Did you think of yourself as a Jewish comedian?”

Zweig believes that Jewish humor is now “dead,” but contemporary comedians such as Marc Maron and Howie Mandel believe otherwise. “It’s still there,” says Mandel, referring to Jewishness in modern comedy. “We just have different accents now. We don’t say the word ‘kvetch.'”

Zweig, known for his personal documentaries, such as I, Curmudgeon, a 2004 film about, well, curmudgeons, heavily featuring Zweig himself, sits outside of the shot throughout the film. All we hear is his gruff chuckle as a joke is relayed: “Two Jews sit down on a bench.” “Oy,” one says, and the other responds, “I thought we agreed not to talk about the kids.”


Watch a trailer of the film:

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