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October 21, 2010 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-10-21

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Arts & Entertainment

Old Jews Telling Jokes

The website that went viral with more than 8 million hits collects its best bits in book form.

Most of the great "story" joke tellers are
gone — Buddy Hackett, Myron Cohen
and Alan King, among them. Others, like
Jack Carter, 87, and Shecky Greene, 84,
guy tells his mother he's finally
are too ailing to perform.
going to get married. His mother
Here's another joke from the book:
is thrilled. He says he's going to
Abie
and Becky were married for sev-
bring the woman over to meet her, but he
eral
years,
with no sign of a baby. Abie
wants to play a little game with Mom and
tells
Becky
to go to the doctor and ask him
bring three women and let her guess which
what's
the
matter.
The doctor examines
one will be his wife. The mother agrees.
her
thoroughly
and
says, "You have an
The next day he brings over three beautiful
Eric Spiegelman
Sam Hoffman
insufficient
passage,
and if you were ever
women. She talks to them for a few minutes,
to have a baby, it'll be a miracle." She goes
then says: "The redhead in the middle." He
One of the book's joke tellers is
home
and Abie says, "Nu? What did the
says, "Ma, that's amazing. How did you know
Hoffman's
father, Barnett, 69, a retired
doctor say?" She says, "The doctor said I got
so quickly that I want to marry her?" She
New
Jersey
Superior Court judge, who
a fish in the passage, and if I have a baby,
says, "Because I don't like her."
often
yucked
it up from the bench. "And if
it'll be a mackerel."
That's just one joke found within the
the
lawyers
knew
what was good for them,
Old Jews Telling Jokes
237 pages of a new
,
'
says
Hoffman.
they laughed'
is exactly what the name
book titled Old Jews
One
more
joke:
implies. Hoffman, 43, who
Telling Jokes (Villard
A judge finds a woman guilty of stealing
has
an English degree
Books; paperback;
a
can
of fruit from the supermarket. "What
from the University of
$15). Written by Sam
was
in
the can," he asks. "About six peaches,"
Pennsylvania and whose
Hoffman, a movie
she
answers.
The judge sentences her to six
credits include contribu-
director based in
days
in
jail.
Suddenly,
a man stands up in
tions to such films as Dead
New York City, with
the
back
of
the
court
and
yells, "Can I say
Man Walking Groundhog
lawyer-turned Internet
something?
I'm
this
woman's
husband." The
Day, School of Rock and
maven and producer
judge
says,
"What
do
you
want
to say?" The
The Royal Tenenbaums,
Eric Spiegelman of Los
husband
says,
"She
also
took
a
can of peas."
rounded up a bunch of his
Angeles, the collection
The
book's
chapters
comprise
12 clas-
father's friends and rela-
features contributors'
,'"The
sic
categories:
"The
Jewish
Mother'
tives, all Jewish and over
jokes culled "from 5,000
,'
,
'
"Husbands
and
Wives:'
"Sex'
Rabbi'
60 (two of them over 90),
years of funny bits and
"Illness
and
Doctors"
among
them.
Each
put them in an abandoned
Chock-full of funny stuff!" —MR BROOKS
not-so-kosher laughs
chapter
is
preceded
by
a
humorous
essay
storefront in his hometown
Hoffman will appear
UN HMI !ilk tlIC SPIEKINAN
of Highland Park, N.J., and on the subject.
11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov.
"The jokes trace the trajectory of the
let them tell their best jokes, "infused with a
7, at the Jewish Book Fair at the Jewish
Jewish
experience in America',' Hoffman
lifetime of experience,' he says.
Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit
says.
"The
jokes become time capsules,
The 13-hour session produced about 150
in West Bloomfield and 7:30 p.m. the same
revealing
fears
and anxieties and celebrat-
video clips for the website, and later, photos
day at the Jewish Book Festival at the
ing
the
joys
and
all aspects of life."
for the book. More sessions followed in New
Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann
"Everyone
has
a relative known for tell-
York City and California, with the next one
Arbor.
ing
jokes,
especially
at family gatherings','
The book is a roundup of jokes gathered slated for Boca Raton, Fla. The New York
adds
co-author
Spiegelman.
"That's the
session included people like former Mayor
from the popular website of the same
website
and
the
book.
They're
similar to
Ed Koch and former New York Times editor
name — go to www.OldJewsTellingJokes.
comfort
food

warm
and
good
for the
and Detroit native Daniel Okrent.
com to experience it for yourself — cre-
soul.
The
book
is
like
chicken
soup
for the
"Since people have heard about the
ated by the authors a few years ago.
El
funny
bone."
sessions, they come to us, asking to be
Its laugh-out-loud content has achieved
included, and all they get for it is a free
more than 8 million hits so far.
pastrami sandwich',' Hoffman says. "We
"I was challenged to come up with the
even have live Jewish audiences. The tell-
idea for a website, and it really was a no-
Sam Hoffman appears at the Jewish
ers are shy and tense at the beginning, but
brainer," explains Hoffman. "Let's face it.
Book Fair at the Jewish Community
then they get giddy and start acting like
Jokes are funny. Jews are funny. Old Jews
Center of Metropolitan Detroit in
school kids again."
— funnier still."
West Bloomfield 11:30 a.m. Sunday,
Jokesters "are pretty much a potty-
The jokes are both clean and dirty, old
Nov. 7, and at the Jewish Book
mouthed group; they're fond of blue lan-
and new, but most importantly, they're
Festival at the Jewish Community
guage," he adds. "Some come in on their
"story" jokes — a lost art in the world of
Center of Greater Ann Arbor 7:30
lunch hour, tell a joke and leave. Others
modern-day humor, where comedians,
p.m. the same day.
have come in from out of town just to
like Jerry Seinfeld, rely mostly on "obser-
crack a joke
vational" humor.

Bill Carroll
Special to the Jewish News

A

Old

Jews

Local Laughs

The JN found some
local "old Jews" who
love to tell jokes.

Joe Rose, 78, of
West Bloomfield:

With their
big wedding
anniversary
coming up, a man
tells his wife: "Go
Rose
buy yourself a
present – a diamond ring, a mink
coat, take a vacation trip." The
wife says, "I don't want any of
those things. I want a divorce."
The husband says, "Sorry. I wasn't
planning to spend that much."

Mickey Behrmann,
84, of Huntington
Woods:

I'm in the printing
business so my
doctor asked me
to print up 25
Behrmann
sympathy cards to
have on hand for
his patients – just in case. I figured,
"He loses 25 patients a year – that
sounds normal." But a year later,
when he asked me to print 200
sympathy cards, I quit him."

Bobby Feldman,
85, of West
Bloomfield:

A guy goes to the
doctor and tells
him, "When I get
up in the morning,
everything hurts.
I touch my nose;
it hurts. I touch my ear; it hurts. I
touch my foot; it hurts. I touch my
stomach; it hurts." The doctor exam-
ines him and says, "I know what's
wrong. Your finger's broken."

iN

October 21 • 2010

47

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