There are no gimmicks. No hidden punchlines to draw you in. It’s exactly what the title says it is: old Jews telling jokes. And it’s awesome.
Here’s Hoffman with the premise:
My dad can tell a story. But he’d prefer to tell a joke.
Storytelling is a Jewish tradition. You’ve probably seen Fiddler on the Roof. Whenever they ask the Rabbi a question, he tugs thoughtfully on his beard and says “let me tell you a story.” Then they sing.
Jokes are like stories, but shorter and funnier. Old jokes tend to have a stigma, but they only last if they’re good. Some of the best ones provide a window to the culture of a bygone era. They can reveal the concerns of a generation or even the generation before. Anxieties of coming to a new country, of prospering, of assimilating, of having families, of fearing and worrying about, well, everything. Humor was and is the ultimate anti-depressant.
My father gathered twenty of his friends to share their favorite jokes. We set three rules for the production: the joke-tellers were to be Jewish, at least sixty years of age and they were to tell their favorite joke – the one that always kills.
There are no actors here. No professional comedians retelling their best version of the Aristocrats. We won’t see Star of David-bearing gangsters like Bernie Madoff, funny Jews like Robert Schimmel, or sexy Jews with guns like these fine ladies from the Israeli Army. Sacha Baron Conan singing Throw the Jew Down the Well need not apply
Instead we get real senior citizens, standing in front of a white background ala old Mac Switch Adds telling us their favorite joke.
Does it sound too plain? Too boring? Not enough awesome and flashy special effects to make itself relevant in this digital realm? Yeah, it does kind of sound like that. But there’s beauty in the simplicity. The bare bones aesthetic accentuates the talent and the punchlines of these joke tellers. You get the sense that the joke is their baby. They love it, care for it, and want to show it off.
Sam Hoffman has stumbled onto some great chemistry with a simple idea that, so far, is working flawlessly.
A classic example of this is the broccoli joke told by his mom. The caption under her video reads: Diane Hoffman is my mom. She can do pretty much anything and, at any given time, is doing everything. She’s also one of the few joke tellers to drop the F bomb. Kind of makes me proud.
After the punch line is said she smiles off to the side of the screen sheepishly with a “Yeah, I just said that, and yeah this was filmed and yeah this is going on my son’s internet site for all the world to see,” rolling of her eyes.
The jokes are all blue humor so if your easily offended it sucks to be you and your missing out. But if you enjoy funny told joke by a sincere story teller, whether you’re Jewish or not, you’ll certainly be entertained.
The site promises new Jews and jokes every Tuesday and Thursday. Check them out at OldJewsTellingJokes.com.