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When Jews Were Funny (2013)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 25 March 2014 (USA)
1:07 | Trailer
Surveys the history of Jewish comedy.


Alan Zweig


Alan Zweig
1 win. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Rodney Dangerfield ... Himself (archive footage)
Gilbert Gottfried ... Himself
Marc Maron ... Himself
Bob Einstein ... Himself
Howie Mandel ... Himself
Eugene Mirman ... Himself
Shelley Berman ... Himself
Jackie Mason ... Himself (archive footage)
Jack Carter ... Himself
Shecky Greene ... Himself
Alan King ... Himself (archive footage)
Andy Kindler ... Himself
David Brenner ... Himself
Elon Gold ... Himself
Judy Gold ... Herself


Alan Zweig's 2013 documentary "When Jews Were Funny" surveys the often colorful history of Jewish comedy in America. The documentary is insightful, often hilarious and packed with one-liners. While taking the viewer on the journey through the history of Jewish comedy, a second journey is taken in the exploration of what it means to be Jewish in America. Written by rleegray

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Not Rated


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Release Date:

25 March 2014 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


Jack Carter: You avoided it like the plague. There was no Jewish Comedians per se. It was outlawed then. It wasn't... it wasn't in.
See more »


References The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating but NOT the film the film-maker wanted to make
15 January 2016 | by A_Different_DrummerSee all my reviews

A few years back I saw one of the most startling documentaries I had ever seen. It was called AN EMPIRE OF THEIR OWN- HOW THE JEWS INVENTED Hollywood, and it was based on a bestseller.

It was brilliant. It not only showed how Hollywood was started by Jews, literally, but also showed how, the more successful Hollywood became, the less Jewish everyone wanted to be. The message seemed to be that assimilation and success went hand in hand. The writers even used Superman as an example -- invented by two Jews, Superman actually used a "secret identity" to keep the world from learning that he was "different." Wow.

Zweig's film here is successful entertainment but FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS.

I cannot easily recall another film where the film-maker is such an annoying presence and the viewer so wishes he would just take an extended lunch so we could spend more time with some the greatest comics of the last century, many of whom we have not seen for so long.

(Age is now and always will be scarier than any Hollywood villain. Shelley Berman, for example, sounds like himself and is sharp as a tack, but at 90 he looks nothing like the imposing comic presence he was on the Ed Sullivan show where by sheer force of will he dragged a whole generation into an appreciation of his "phone call" comedy.)

Zwieg meanwhile presents, ironically, the least comic moments in the film as he harasses and annoys these professionals into trying to get them to admit that the world is not as funny as it was because Jews are not as Jewish as they were...

Ignore Zweig and you will actually enjoy this.

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