When Jews Were Funny

(Canada, 2013, 90 mins)
FEATURING Alan Zweig, Gilbert Gottfried, Howie Mandel, Shecky Greene, Shelley Berman, David Steinberg, Mark Breslin, Norm Crosby, Judy Gold


Why is the history of American humour over the last century so inextricably tied to Jewish comedy? What was it about the Jewish experience that made them so funny? And what’s different now? These are the questions - some of them - that Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig pursues with a roster of fellow Jewish comedians, young and old.

The questions are deliberately provocative, and not a few of Zweig’s interviewees take issue with his thesis, but more often than not the movie goes to prove that there’s nothing funnier than a couple of old Jewish guys arguing about what’s funny, and why.

Director’s Bio

Alan Zweig was born and educated in Toronto. After working in the film industry as a writer, producer, director and actor for twenty-five years, he found his niche directing documentaries. His films include Vinyl (00); Family Secrets (03); I, Curmudgeon (04); Lovable (07); A Hard Name (09); which won the Genie Award for Best Documentary; and When Jews Were Funny (13).