By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
You know that family vacation trip to the Catskills you've been planning every summer for years, but keep putting off at the last moment? Well, Live Theatre Workshop provides a chance to get another whiff of those dinner shows and the old-style vaudeville-based comedy that was featured.
“Old Jews Telling Jokes” is the sort of fanciful theatrical flight in which LTW takes particular delight, and is also the most truthfully titled. Well, actually it should be “Jews Telling Old Jokes.” That would be more accurate.
If you grew up during the late radio/early television era of variety shows, loving the jokes of Morey Amsterdam, Henny Youngman and that bunch...“Old Jews Telling Jokes” will peel back lots of pages in your book of memories.
Unfortunately, “Old Jews Telling Jokes,” directed by Maryann Green, isn't as funny as any page of Youngman's one-liners you happen to find on the internet, but LTW's quintet of performers has got the right spirit. As comedy nostalgia, it works just fine.
“That's Borscht Belt humor, for sure,” smiled one happy audience member after this non-stop 90-minute barrage of diet jokes, doctor jokes, wedding jokes, money jokes, wife jokes, death-bed jokes and, yes, some sex jokes with naughty language that would never be allowed in those early years of television.
Trading one-liners quicker than bubblegum card collectors at a swap meat are Michael F. Woodson as Morty, Bob Kovitz as Nathan, Pat Timm a Bunny, Mathew C. Copley as Reuben and Candace Bean as Debbi the young Jew.
Even though each of the performers has a character name, they don't develop any specific personalities for these characters. Getting laughs is their only objective. And singing a few songs.
Being Jewish will help in getting a afew of the jokes, but it won't make much difference, really. The culture of Jewish family tradition is also American entertainment tradition. All of the jokes, in fact, come directly from a website dedicated to everyone posting as many jokes like these as possible.
A couple of years ago several enterprising fellows turned a prime selection of those website jokes into this show for a New York off-Broadway production, which was such a hit it landed on Broadway.
With a script credited to Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent, productions of “Old Jews Telling Jokes” are popping up all over the country.
The Tucson show runs through Feb. 13, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays and Saturday, Feb. 13, at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $20 general admission, with discounts. For details and reservations, 327-4242 or online at livetheatreworkshop.org