I didn’t want this comfy, funny, 90-minute show to end, even though it is basically just five Jewish people sharing their favorite adults-only jokes, plus one slightly longer, more poignant story each about what humor means to them.
The show is framed by noshes of music and dancing, but in between is a full meal of comedy. Some of the jokes are told solo while others are told by pairs or more of the five actors. Some are told straightforwardly while others are told with the help of a costume, prop, or sound effect. The five actors also use a variety of accents, mannerisms and more.
Rich Komenich, Eric J. Olson, Adrienne Reiswerg, Sara Rieman and Daniel Scharbrough all sparkle as Monty, Reuben, Bunny, Debbi, and Nathan, respectively. I love that each of the five actors seems to enjoy listening as much as telling.
Don’t worry if you don’t know any Yiddish. The collection of jokes is organized according to periods in anyone’s life, from birth to just after death, with many sexual references in between. The humor embraces Jewish stereotypes but in a universally relatable, not mean-spirited, way.
The set, designed by director Bryan Fonseca, includes large photos of famous Jewish comedians. It is fun to see how many you can identify before the show begins. Be sure to move your chair so that you can also see at least one of the two small video screens at either side of the stage.
Another tip: Jessica the Goodie Chick has a new pub window in the hallway. She stays open for business throughout this intermission-free show, but the jokes come quickly and you won’t want to miss even a single one-liner. Better to buy a beer or a brownie before the show begins.
I confess that when I heard about Old Jews Telling Jokes by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent at the Phoenix’ Pitch Night a few months ago, it didn’t interest me that much. However, I laughed a lot during this show and I left feeling grateful for the joke tellers in my own life.