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
and Becky were married for sev-
bring the woman over to meet her, but he
with no sign of a baby. Abie
wants to play a little game with Mom and
to go to the doctor and ask him
bring three women and let her guess which
The doctor examines
one will be his wife. The mother agrees.
says, "You have an
The next day he brings over three beautiful
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
and Abie says, "Nu? What did the
says, "Ma, that's amazing. How did you know
father, Barnett, 69, a retired
doctor say?" She says, "The doctor said I got
so quickly that I want to marry her?" She
Superior Court judge, who
a fish in the passage, and if I have a baby,
says, "Because I don't like her."
it up from the bench. "And if
it'll be a mackerel."
That's just one joke found within the
what was good for them,
Old Jews Telling Jokes
237 pages of a new
is exactly what the name
book titled Old Jews
implies. Hoffman, 43, who
Telling Jokes (Villard
A judge finds a woman guilty of stealing
an English degree
of fruit from the supermarket. "What
from the University of
$15). Written by Sam
the can," he asks. "About six peaches,"
Pennsylvania and whose
Hoffman, a movie
The judge sentences her to six
credits include contribu-
director based in
a man stands up in
tions to such films as Dead
New York City, with
yells, "Can I say
Man Walking Groundhog
Day, School of Rock and
maven and producer
to say?" The
The Royal Tenenbaums,
Eric Spiegelman of Los
can of peas."
rounded up a bunch of his
Angeles, the collection
father's friends and rela-
tives, all Jewish and over
jokes culled "from 5,000
60 (two of them over 90),
years of funny bits and
put them in an abandoned
Chock-full of funny stuff!" —MR BROOKS
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
experience in America',' Hoffman
lifetime of experience,' he says.
Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit
jokes become time capsules,
The 13-hour session produced about 150
in West Bloomfield and 7:30 p.m. the same
and anxieties and celebrat-
video clips for the website, and later, photos
day at the Jewish Book Festival at the
all aspects of life."
for the book. More sessions followed in New
Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann
a relative known for tell-
York City and California, with the next one
at family gatherings','
The book is a roundup of jokes gathered slated for Boca Raton, Fla. The New York
session included people like former Mayor
from the popular website of the same
Ed Koch and former New York Times editor
name — go to www.OldJewsTellingJokes.
and Detroit native Daniel Okrent.
com to experience it for yourself — cre-
"Since people have heard about the
ated by the authors a few years ago.
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
Special to the Jewish News
The JN found some
local "old Jews" who
love to tell jokes.
Joe Rose, 78, of
coming up, a man
tells his wife: "Go
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."
84, of Huntington
I'm in the printing
business so my
doctor asked me
to print up 25
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."
85, of West
A guy goes to the
doctor and tells
him, "When I get
up in the morning,
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."
October 21 • 2010