It's practically impossible to underestimate the presence of Jewish culture in American comedy, considering how many noted funnymen were Jewish (from Groucho Marx
and Milton Berle
to Jerry Seinfeld
and Lewis Black
), and how frequently the idiosyncrasies of Jewish life became the subject of their humor. So it's hardly surprising that the folks at the Shout Factory label (who used to make a career out of such things at Rhino) have put together Now That Sounds Kosher!
, a collection of novelty songs which milk the Jewish-American experience for melodic laughter, with the artists ranging from such icons of Jewish comedy as Mickey Katz
and Allan Sherman
to several inspired unknowns (and actual goy Weird Al Yankovic
, whose "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" shows he's done his homework). For the most part, the big names with the longest track records deliver the best material, most notably Mickey Katz
's superb song parody "Duvid Crockett," Kinky Friedman
's scabrous "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore," and Mel Brooks
' epic "The Inquisition" (from his movie The History of the World, Part I), though Rabbi Joe Black's twangy take on "The Dreidel Song" and Steve Kurland
's "Famous Jews" also rank high on the chuckle meter. Unfortunately, some of the newer material feels more like padding than anything else, and it's a shame that "Be True to Your Shul" and "Take a Walk on the Kosher Side" appear here in re-recorded versions (dig up the long out of print compilation Rhino Royale
for the originals), but most of this disc offers a healthy portion of good laughs and hey, it's a lot more fun than anything Barbra Streisand
or Barry Manilow
have done for us lately.