Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

Buffalo, New York - The Jewish Repertory Theatre
Old Jews Telling Jokes

Jewish Comedians have excelled at their calling in seemingly large numbers from slapstick to stand-up to sketch to hosting and more forms of comedy delivery. My parents were fond of Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), Milton Berle (Mendel Berlinger), Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar, Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx, Jackie Mason and Buddy Hackett (Leonard Hacker).

Canadian born Eugene Levy, Morton Lyon "Mort" Sahl and Frank and Wayne Shuster seemed to fare quite well. I graduated from Jerry Lewis to Sheldon "Shelley" Berman and Mel Brooks (Melvin James Kaminsky). I never cared much for Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld or Donald Jay "Don" Rickles. Peter Sellers (born Richard Henry Sellers) and Heywood "Woody" Allen (Allan Stewart Konigsberg) were my favourites in the movies.

The guy who currently helps to make my life sane on a daily basis (pun) is Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz host of The Daily Show. He used to showcase Lewis Niles Black who likes to rant. William Edward "Billy" Crystal is adept at movies and stand-up, and I haven't mentioned the ladies yet.

Beatrice "Bea" Arthur, Sandra Bernhard, Goldie Jeanne Hawn, Madeline Kahn, Bette Midler, Gilda Susan Radner and Rita Rudner are all standouts, so when Buffalo's Jewish Repertory Theater opened their 12th season with "Old Jews Telling Jokes," they were trying to fill some mighty big shoes, and it turns, out by telling mainly old jokes.

I laughed just the same, but many were too dusty and remarkably, according to my unofficial figures (always suspect) far too many were sexual in nature. Perhaps it's the juxtaposition of age and libido that creates such comical situations. I don't know. I don't even know what a libido is!

Directed by Saul Elkin, the promo for ...Jokes is, "If a Jewish husband states his opinion while alone in the woods, is he still wrong? Think you've heard every old Jewish joke in the book? Think again! It's Borscht Belt in this 90-minute joke fest that touches on birth, courtship, marriage, death and those little annoyances in between (like doctors and rabbis)." Yes, but like I said, heavy on the sex.

The cast was comprised of Todd Benzin as Reuben, Josie DiVicesnzo as Debbi, Saul Elkin as Morty, Christina Rausa as Bunny and Robert Rutland as Nathan each holding their own in a "Laugh-in" series of short sketches or one-liners. The production took place in attractive The Maxine and Robert Seller Theater near the newer UB campus on North Forest Rd. in Getzville.

Next up is "Beau Jest" by James Sherman February 5 - March 1, starring Saul Elkin, Darleen Pickering Hummert, Brian Mysliwy, Matt Snyder, Adam Yellen & Rebecca Elkin-Young followed by Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple," April 23 - May 17, with Michele Benzin, Ray Boucher, Tom Loughlin, Lisa Ludwig, David Marciniak, Tim Newell, Mike Randall & Doug Weyand.

Showtimes are usually: Thursdays @ 7:30pm, Saturdays @ 4pm & 8pm and Sundays @ 2pm. For more information, check out the JRT website at:

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