Catskills University, educating Jewish comics 2

Film · Ideas & Opinion
Oh pure pleasure to watch these guys — and a few very brave women, Totie Fields and Joan Rivers — spiel, kvetch and kill in WHEN COMEDY WENT TO SCHOOL. A wonderful new documentary opening Friday at Laemmle theaters spools a nostalgic tour of a sweaty swathe of summertime civilization — the erstwhile Borsht Belt, a ...

Celebrating Iran’s Jewish artists: Shulamit Gallery

Visual arts
Two weeks after a bustling opening party launched a new house of art at Venice Beach, we revisited the multi-floored Shulamit Gallery on a grey-skied late-November afternoon. The smart, post-modern shoebox structure wedges neatly into a row of buildings that marks the end of Venice Boulevard. At this location, arguably the western-most point of sprawling ...

“Yidishe Glik” at the Arbeter Ring/Worksmen’s Circle

In “Yidishe Glik”, Shloyme Mikhoels (1890 – 1948), the great Yiddish actor/orator and head of the Moscow Jewish State Theater, is a master of pantomime and “attains the summit of ethnic Jewish dandyism.” (Osip Mandelstam writing in a Leningrad newspaper, 1925 – as quoted in Bridge of Light by J. Hoberman)

Gary Lucas’s “scary magical Jews” terrify in “Der Golem” @ Cinefamily 1

Film · Music · Reviews
Grammy-nominated Gary Lucas, whom Rolling Stone calls “one of the best and most original guitarists in America,” performed his well-traveled and exceedingly harrowing  score to “Der Golem,” the brilliant 1920 silent horror exemplar of German expressionism. The sold-out performance took place earlier this evening at The Cinefamily on Fairfax Avenue — speaking of ghostly Jewish ...

Strom’s socialist singspiel soothes Sunday’s squally storms 1

No better way to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon than a concert at the Workman’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Los Angeles. There, the cultural anthropologist and klezmer guy, Yale Strom, his string bass player Mark Dresser, and the sultry songstress Elizabeth Schwartz presented a program of socialist-themed Yiddish music. Strom, a torrid fiddler, is deeply steeped ...

What a guy! Ehrich Weiss, a.k.a. Harry Houdini

Ideas & Opinion · Theater
The absolutely fabulous “Houdini: Art and Magic,” which opens tomorrow at the Skirball Center along with its equally wonderful companion show, “Masters of Illusion, Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age,” injects fun, mystery and gamesmanship into the ether — right when we need it most. Jewish guys dressed in turbans and tuxedos, waving wands, and ...

Harry Houdini, who he? See: Skirball Center

Visual arts
Houdini: Art and Magic, coming soon to the Skirball Cultural Center, traces magician and escape artist Harry Houdini’s evolution from fledgling circus performer in the 1890s, to stage magician at the turn of the twentieth century, to star of stage and film. Featuring more than 150 artifacts, the exhibition illuminates Houdini’s compelling story through historical ...

Julius Garfinkle’s high integrity 5

Blacklisted actor John Garfield, né Julius Garfinkle, was the subject of a curtain talk at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences following a screening of his enthralling boxing movie, Body and Soul (1947), part of the Academy’s screenwriter-driven film-noir series. Garfield’s unswerving dignity as a Jewish boxer (improbably named Charlie Davis) dominates the ...

Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner, still kings of comedy 1

“We didn’t know if they were after Communists, Jews, or just short people.” With that great one-liner, Mel Brooks, the funniest man in the world, defuses – no, ridicules – the McCarthy hearings and blacklist that terrorized the entertainment industry in the early 1950s. Together with his longtime friend and indispensable straight-man, Carl Reiner, Mel ...

Skirball’s “Get down, Moses” listening party

Ideas & Opinion · Music
The “listening party” — a groovy event in which cultural anthropologist Josh Kun spins discs to illustrate the complex historic relationship between African-American and Jewish popular music — had serious naming issues. Kun launched it as “Black Sabbath.” It got changed to “Go Down, Moses.” Then, some genius in the Skirball Center p.r. department tweaked ...