A Love Letter of Jewish Comedy with Nadine von Cohen

May 3, 2020

Could it be that comedy serves this moment best? Living in absurd times, we turn to the absurd – to make us laugh and make sense of things.

From the sages of the Talmud and Yiddish storytellers to early Hollywood slapstick and today’s stand-up and satire, comedy has always had a place in Jewish life.

In my family, there’s a line we use that is most certainly being echoed in houses across the world: If you don’t laugh, you cry. And that’s our hope for this week’s Love Letter – to help you laugh, with a little help from Sydney-based writer, humourist and refugee advocate Nadine von Cohen.

Might I add we’re excited to be presenting a special event with Jerusalem-based journalist Ittay Flescher on the triumphs and tragedies of Israeli politics 14 May (we’ll leave you to decide whether three elections in a year qualifies as an extra dark comedy!) Tickets are selling fast for this interactive Zoom, so be sure to book now.

Over to the inimitable Nadine, stay safe and well until we meet again.

Jessica Bram
Director & CEO

Productive People During Quarantine

Young Aussie comedians Victoria Zerbst and Jenna Owen mock the annoying, productive high achievers in all our social media feeds right now. I firmly believe that everyone should get through this dystopian nightmare however they can, and if that means eating chocolate and watching Pride and Prejudice for the seventeenth time, that’s OK.

Stage Fright

‘My name is Jenny Slate, and if you’re looking at me from any angle, you will notice that I am a Jewish woman.’ I first encountered Jenny Slate on Parks and Recreation and I’ve loved her ever since. Her Netflix special is about resilience and the importance of family and if that’s not what we need during this time, I don’t know what is.

Bird Song 

Australian comedian Alice Fraser was born to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother who raised her Buddhist; if the comedian thing doesn’t work out, she’d make a great peace broker. This song is about why she loves pigeons and, after six weeks trapped inside, it might make you love them too.

The Honeymoon Stand-up Special

American comedian Moshe Kasher was born to deaf Jewish parents and partly grew up in Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community. His wife, fellow comedian Natasha Leggero, converted to Judaism prior to their wedding. This three-part stand-up series is a wild celebration of love, but is quite blue so proceed with caution.

Yoga, Singing, Dancing: Inside a ‘Coronavirus Hotel’

This one’s not strictly a comedy, but contains such a beautiful message I had to throw it in. Comedian Noam Shuster contracted COVID-19 and documented her experience of living in one of Israel’s many hotels housing infected people. What she discovered was a rare utopia, where the secular and ultra-Orthodox broke bread / pita, Palestinians mingled with Israelis, and everyone got along. L’chaim.