A Jewish Joke

A Jewish joke jpegJewish Heritage FundFund for the arts

by Phil Johnson & Marni Freedman
October 4-21


A curmudgeonly Jewish comedy screenwriter from MGM comes up against the Communist blacklist in 1950's Hollywood. He now has to make the biggest decision of his life. Armed with stories about the great era of Jewish humor, this poignant solo comedy shows one small man facing the tough American events of the mid 20th Century.


A bravura performance


“A Jewish Joke” brilliantly proves that the blacklist was no laughing matter. -STL Jewish Light


See Reviews below


Show dates and times


4- 7:30

5 - 7:30

6 - 7:30

7 - 2:00

11 - 7:30

12 - 7:30

13 - 7:30

14 - 2:00

18 - 7:30

19 - 7:30

20 - 7:30

21 - 7:30




• It fights against hate: "...What energizes the pathos of Bernie’s plight is the sweetness of this simple yuckmaster… That can’t be a crime against your country unless the land has gone loony, as in anti-Semitic. (Phil) Johnson and (Marnie) Freedman’s multi-faceted monologue, impressively detonated by director David Y. Chack, reveals the unsung and unsuspected worth of a not-so-mere jokester. Never has “he who laughs last” mattered more." -- Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema http://www.stageandcinema.com/2016/07/09/a-jewish-joke/

• Humor has the last laugh: As he tells Jewish jokes from his "collection," a box full of index cards, Johnson wonderfully channels a bygone era of Jewish funnymen, who never forgot to laugh, even during the terrors of the McCarthy witch-hunt. —Max Maller - The Chicago Reader • Jewish values: “ShPIeL-Performing Identity’s “A Jewish Joke” envelops the audience in an embrace of understanding, compassion, anger and, of course, laughter despite the tears…There is a mastery in (Phil) Johnson’s multi-leveled performance, every drip of sweat, every gesture, every micro-expression of his face is felt beyond the doors of the theater. You care for him like he is a dear uncle or a friend, trying to make sense of a senseless world. What a mentsch.” -- Danielle Levsky, New City Stage http://www.newcitystage.com/2016/07/11/a-mighty-good-mentsch/

• Danielle Levsky continues in her blog: I cannot recommend this show enough. In light of recent awful, tragic events, it is SO important. It speaks to a level of humanity I'd like everyone to be reminded of...Take a box of tissues with you and a few hundred friends.

• The present reflected in history: …with a great deal of humor—A JEWISH JOKE’s 1950s Hollywood setting also has darker echoes of the present moment. Fear runs rampant among the Hollywood community, fueled by McCarthyism and the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee. … With direction by ShPIel’s Artistic Director David Y. Chack, A JEWISH JOKE also makes for a lovely evening of theater. Johnson gives a heartfelt and emotional performance, fully carrying the weight of Bernie’s plight on his shoulders. -- Rachel Weinberg - Perform.ink




Jewish Heritage Fund