Jokers wild. UK Jewish Comedy Fest gets under way

Josh Howie
Josh Howie

The UK Jewish Comedy Festival has returned to London’s JW3 for its second year, celebrating the best in Jewish and Jew-ish comedy.

“Most people, Jewish or not, are familiar with Jewish comedy in one form or another. Whether it’s Woody Allen’s films, Joan Rivers’ red carpet interviews, Larry David’s sitcoms, or Sarah Silverman’s and Simon Amstel’s stand up shows,” said Raymond Simonson, CEO of JW3.

“The tradition has long been celebrated and has made a huge impact on modern culture. I love how Jewish comedy plays an important role in developing British-Jewish identity and relations with the non-Jewish world – especially as it’s capable of attracting such a brilliantly diverse audience.

“Last year’s inaugural UK Jewish Comedy Festival was a huge success and established itself firmly on the UK cultural calendar. There’s an exciting line-up this year, with the return of events such as the ‘Jewish Comedian of the Year Competition’, alongside one-offs like ‘A Rabbi, a Vicar and an Imam.’”

The festival runs until this Saturday.

The Roots of Jewish Comedy from Talmud to Hollywood (today and Thursday) tracks the journey of Jewish comedy and unpick the important role humour has played in the history and texts of Judaism, as well as contemporary Jewish culture.

Woody Allen’s 80th Birthday Party: Woody Allen: Film by Film with Jason Solomons (tonight).

Jason Solomons’ new book about Allen’s career, explores one of the world’s most complex and neurotic movie-makers. Solomons and a selection of special guests take audience members on a whistle-stop tour of all of Woody’s favourite movies, discovering more about the man and his best comedies.

Woody Allen’s 80th Birthday Party: WoodyStock! with LOCO London Comedy Film Festival (tonight) is a cabaret night featuring the UK’s best comedians, including Simon Schatzberger, Brett Goldstein, Mae Martin and Sophie Henderson, all inspired by the films, writing and comedy of Woody Allen.

Industry Day (tomorrow). JW3 presents a day of talks and workshops for people working or interested in the comedy industry.

Guest Speakers include: professional comedian and founder of Comedy Guild, Sarah Pascoe; chief comedy reviewer for The Scotsman, Kate Copstick; comedy producer and creator of Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner, Robert Popper; and top comedy agent Debi Allen.

Josh Howie: Aids – A Survivor’s Story (Weds). Following rave-reviews at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, smart stand-up Josh Howie presents his provocatively-titled solo comedy show – a brave, storytelling hour, all about how his teenage self was convinced he’d contracted HIV.


Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen – The Extended Remix (Thurs)

Arthur Smith sings Leonard Cohen was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and then at venues around Britain and Ireland. It returns lengthened, deepened, with extra laughs and the addition of four more Cohen songs (including ‘the most miserable song ever written’).

The show reflects on despair, decline and dementia, yet succeeds in being hilarious, joyous and life-affirming. Smith, playwright, grumpy old man, ‘Radio 4’s bit of rough’ and stand-up comic, is enhanced by the fabulous Smithereens, a trio of unbeatably melodious and glamorous singer/musicians.

Jewish Comedian of the Year Competition (Thurs & Sat)

Ten acts compete to be crowned Jewish Comedian of the Year and win £1000, with a judging panel of comedy industry professionals, and MCs Juliet Myers (Heat) and Gareth Berliner (Final).

The Tobolowsky Files (Sat). Hollywood actor Stephen Tobolowsky entertains audiences with stories about life, love and the entertainment industry. Tobolowsky has appeared in Groundhog Day, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Heroes, Glee, Californication, Deadwood, Seinfeld and CSI: Miami.

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