- Written and performed by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson
- Produced by Bethesda Theatre
- Reviewed by Janice Cane
Jews have been around for thousands and thousands of years, and most of the jokes about the chosen people are nearly as old. But plenty of comics (and lay people) are still coming up with original zingers – witness Judy Gold at Theater J earlier this year who had this reviewer cracking up. Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson unfortunately do not belong to that group; instead they serve up the reheated leftovers of Jewish comedy.
World of Jewtopia does offer some fresh material, like Jews’ penchant for freezing food, and the “Challah” position in the Jewish Kama Sutra – complete with a visual. In classic Jewish tradition, Fogel and Wolfson turn to their own families for comedic fodder. The picture of a fully dressed grandmother wearing an inner tube on vacation is fantastic, but phone conversations with these moms don’t compare to Judy Gold’s paranoid mother (“So long!”).
Some of the classic jokes are funny simply because they are classics, like the bit about Jewish women making all the decisions in a relationship. But these jokes are cheap and schmaltzy. Worse still are the shticks we’ve all heard so many times that they can’t possibly be funny anymore, like the comparisons between Christmas and Hanukkah. Christmas is more fun? You don’t say!
Wolfson was quite impressed that the audience kept yelling out the punch lines during the interactive portion of the show. He didn’t seem to realize that this is a bad thing. And, to be fair, neither did most of the audience – there was plenty of laughter to drown out my irritation at the show’s predictability. Wolfson and Fogel must be doing something right; their first show, Jewtopia, was wildly successful in L.A. and Off-Broadway (World of Jewtopia actually incorporates material from that script, as well as the pair’s coffee-table book). But from where I was sitting in the art-deco Bethesda Theatre, it seemed silly to shell out cash (relax, no Jewish joke here) to hear the old lady from Florida a few rows over calling out the punch lines.
In fact, that lady stole the show – again, never a good sign, but I’m not complaining, because she really was hilarious, asking Fogel and Wolfson if they were single or gay, then suggesting they try “Jewdate.” There’s no guarantee you’ll have an equally funny audience, though, so if you want fresh comedy instead of leftovers, you’re probably better off attending a Passover seder – my family’s, for example – where you can hear some real knee-slappers.
- Running Time: 1:30 minutes, no intermission
- When: Thru June 22. Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00, Saturdays at 5:00 and 9:00, and Sundays at 2:00 and 5:00.
- Where: Bethesda Theatre, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD
- Tickets: $40-$75 Call: 301-657-STAR or consult the website.
I really wish this theatre would just go away. Or at least produce something worthwhile. The Bethesda Theatre is just a sad attempt by the Nederlander Organization to make money by bring worthless Off-Broadway productions to the DC area. The World of Jewtopia… a third rate production of Smokey Joe’s that closed because of cough, cough “water damage”… and another dated production of I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change…who cares?? Stop insulting the intelligence of DC Audiences. Here’s a note to all: instead of going to the second rate Bethesda Theatre go down the road to Roundhouse and see some inspired theatre. Heck, go to Six Flags Theme Park and see something more inspired then this dreck.