Jews Telling Jokes–Old and Otherwise

(Published Oct 13, 2014)

Who knows when Jewish Humor began? Nu, there is humor in the Torah and the Mishnah.

Getting a little closer to home, American comedy would be very different if not for Jewish humorists. Here, in no particular order is a tiny sampling of the Jewish people who have made America laugh. See if you recognize any of them-Jon Stewart, the Marx Brothers, Milton Berle, Billy Crystal, Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, Jack Benny…

There is great conjecture about why a disproportionately high percentage of American comedians have been Jewish. I am not a scholar, but I think it has something to do with having to deal with very heavy issues in a light manner in order to keep life in perspective, in order to survive.

Whatever the reason, it is indisputable that Jews tell jokes. That is part of being Jewish. In fact, Old Jews Telling Jokes has become an underground brand. Just go to YouTube. “Old Jews Telling Jokes” by Peter Gethers and Peter Okrent, an off-Broadway hit that has been spreading through the country is a creative embodiment of this movement.

Plan to join us Saturday, November 1 at 7 pm at the JCC as Phoenix Theatre will be performing this hilarious play at the JCC as part of the 16th Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts. Will Jews have a great time at this show? Why not? Will Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians…laugh like crazy? Well, what do you think? This will be a great evening for everyone. Tickets are available in person, by phone at (317)251-9467, or online at Eventbrite: Old Jews Telling Jokes.

There is even the opportunity for a limited number of cameo roles in the play and for our own old Jews to tell some jokes. If interested in a role or telling a joke, call Martha at 715-9209.

The performance of Old Jews Telling Jokes is one of many during the JCC’s 16th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts, October 28 through November 15. For a complete listing of events, visit

For a list of performances at the Phoenix Theatre of “Old Jews Telling Jokes” by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent, please visit or call 317-635-7529.

By Lev RothLev_Rothenberg-blog-thumb_low-rezenberg, Director of Arts and Education at JCC Indianapolis. For more about the JCC’s arts and education programming, including an upcoming three-week series of events, the Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts, follow Lev on Twitter @LevJCCindy.