WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY
Dir. Alan Zweig (90min, Canada, 2013)
We begin with a simple question: Why were so many TV comedians in the 1950s and 1960s Jewish? As some of America’s most beloved funnymen attest, the answer ranges from simple to complex, to incidental. First-hand accounts from Jack Carter, Shelley Berman, and Shecky Greene mix with archival footage from legends like Jackie Mason, but the answer proves elusive.
As these comics duke it out, arguing about whether American humor is quintessentially Jewish, the film pivots – in the end, the question isn’t about the nature of comedy, but rather the meaning of being Jewish.
Co-Sponsored by the Chaim Kempner Fund
Co-Presented by DC Comedy Writers
Alan Zweig is the director of Lovable, the third and final film in a de facto trilogy of autobiographical documentaries. His last film I, Curmudgeon premiered at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival. The first documentary in the trilogy, Vinyl, explored the lives of record collectors, and also premiered at Hot Docs. Alan’s Stealing Images won Best Short Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival. Alan is also the director of The Darling Family.