Photos – Lindsay Kearn, Lightbox Photography

You don’t have to Jewish to get the gags, have a groan and a laugh, in Bondi Theatre Company’s production of You Don't Have to Be Jewish.

Conceived sixty years ago as a comedy album by Bob BookerYou Don't Have to Be Jewish became a cult classic, a best seller and a Grammy Award nominee for Best Comedy Album of the Year.

Age has withered some of the wit and custom staled its style of variety, however You Don't Have to Be Jewish benefits from a cast that are savvy to the cozy old cardigan comfort of the comedy and able to bring out its best. 

Christine Greenough, Geoff Sirmai, Andrea Ginsberg, Liz Hovey, James Burchett and the show’s producer, David Spicer, step up to the plate to perform a series of skits, sketches and singalongs that fondle the nostalgia zone, tickle the funny bone, and poke not a little at woke.

With more vignettes you can poke a schtick at,  targeting schmucks, schnooks, schlemiels, and shiksas, mishegoss, mammas and mish-mosh, You Don't Have to Be Jewish is a rollicking relic of vaudeville and the Borscht Belt where corn is made kosher and the zingers are on Zimmers.

Crammed with the vernacular, ritual, customs, cliches and jokes from the shtetls and the ghettos of the old world to the tenements and condos of the new, You Don't Have to Be Jewish dishes up mordant syntax, contempt via affirmation and sarcasm through innocuous diction.

And for those slow to cotton on there’s a segment of pseudo audience participation, a crash course in how to become Jewish overnight – Jewish 101 and 102 – where the three phrases, Oy Veh!, Hoo Hah! and Mazel-Tov! are explained.

The highlights though, are the musical numbers, including the chart topping The Ballad of Irving (The Hundred and Forty-Second Fastest Gun in The West), and When You’re In Love the Whole World is Jewish.

Cutting edge cabaret it isn't, but in these trying times You Don't Have to Be Jewish is a welcome light relief.


Event details

Bondi Theatre Company presents
Title of show
by Bob Booker

Director Ruth Fingret

Bondi Pavilion Theatre Campbell Parade Bondi Beach NSW | Oct 25 – Nov 5, 2023
Emanuel Synagogue 7 Ocean Street Woollahra (Part proceeds will go to charity) | Nov 15-19


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