Live Jews on Stage!
Once upon a time, there were comedy records that weren't just one person standing on stage, talking to a bunch of semi-drunk people at a club with a name like Yuk-Yuk's. Concept albums, folks called them. They were like little sketch comedies on a common theme, often with songs. The best-selling of these was The First Family, the 1962 album that satirized President Kennedy and his clan. It was produced by Bob Booker and Earle Doud, and was at the time the fastest-selling record of any kind the industry had ever seen.
Thereafter, Mssrs. Booker and Doud produced many other popular comedy albums, sometimes alone and sometimes together. In '65, Booker and his then-partner George Foster gave us You Don't Have to Be Jewish, starring Lou Jacobi, Betty Walker, Jack Gilford, and Frank Gallop. It was a tremendous hit and it received a Grammy nomination. The following year, Booker and Foster brought forth a sequel called When You're In Love, The Whole World Is Jewish featuring most of the same people plus a then-unknown actress named Valerie Harper. This too was a success and many disc jockeys played a cut from it that you may remember if you were ever a Dr. Demento listener. It was the song, "The Ballad of Irving."
Here, I'll let you listen to "The Ballad of Irving." The folks at archive.org have it up, credited wrongly to Allan Sherman, who seems to get credited or blamed for every funny song ever written with Jewish overtones. This is Frank Gallop performing…
So why am I telling you all this? Because some clever folks are turning this wonderful material into a stage show. Producers Danny Gold and Billy Riback have taken the best of both albums and on February 1, they debut When You're In Love, The Whole World Is Jewish at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles. It's located appropriately enough on Fairfax Avenue (or as I call it, The Borscht Beltway) within easy walking distance of my favorite delicatessen, Canter's.
The director is Jason Alexander — yes, that Jason Alexander — and I'll review it when I see it the week after it opens…but don't wait for me. Go check out their website and if you're within easy schlepping distance, order tickets. Sounds to me like a great evening.