Not Just Funny Girl

Not Just Funny Girl: A Program Series on

Jewish American Women in Comedy

The American Jewish Historical Society is proud to present a program series highlighting the  contributions of Jewish American to the world of comedy, entarteinment, and popular culture. Home to records on prominent Jewish women comedians and actors, including Molly Picon, Sophie Tucker, and more, AJHS celebrates the legendary work of memorable artists who have followed in their footsteps such as Joan Rivers and Gilda Radner, and artists who continue to forge new paths, such as Judy Gold. What is it about their work that draws from a sense of Jewishness? How will the fascinating perspectives that come from American, Jewish and women's identities  play out in the work of the next generation of comedians?  The series explores the changing roles, faces,  languages, and voices of American Jewish comedians, and their reception in the media and in the Jewish world. See below for tickets and more information about each program and stay tuned for more programs in the series to come. This series is co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish History and the Jewish Women's Archive and The Forward.

From Jean Carroll to Mrs. Maisel: Jewish women comedians as inspiration

Talk with Noah Gardenswartz (writer for the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Grace Overbeke (Northwestern University)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 7:00 pm

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A talk with Noah Gardenswartz, writer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Grace Overbeke, Dramaturg currently at Northwestern University. Join us for an evening of conversation, film clips, and good laughs as we discuss the life and work of comedian Jean Carroll, and how the character of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was inspired by Carroll, Joan Rivers, and other Jewish women comedians.

AJHS is home to records on prominent Jewish women actors and comedians, including the Molly Picon Papers, the Adah Isaac Menken PapersPapers of Sara Adler, photos and records on Sophie Tucker, and more.

Photograph: courtesry of Amazon.

Happy Birthday, Molly! Celebrate East and West and the Other Migrating Identities

Live Score and Film Screening of East and West (1923) starring Molly Picon Featuring composer of the 1991 score Pete Sokolow and Michael Winograd (Sandaara)

Sunday, March 3, 2019, 4:00 pm

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Join us for a live score and film screening of the silent classic East and West (1923) featuring the composer of the original score for the 1991 remastered film Pete Sokolow and musician Michael Winograd (Klezmer Trio, Sandaraa). This program celebrates the 121 birthday of the star of East and West, Molly Picon, highlighting her talented bridging of multiple geographies and identities in her performances, prompting us to consider today’s concepts of East versus West, immigration, diaspora, and identity.

This delightful comedy that scholar Jeffrey Shandler famously called “anti-nostalgic”, East and Westopens as Morris Brown, a New Yorker better acquainted with his checkbook than his prayerbook, returns to Galicia with his very American daughter, Mollie, for a family wedding. The bride, daughter of his traditionally observant brother, and Mollie, whose exuberant antics fill the film, could not be more different. But Mollie unexpectedly meets her match, an engaging young yeshiva scholar who forsakes tradition and joins the secular world to win her heart. East and West features classic scenes of Molly Picon lifting weights and boxing, teaching young villagers to shimmy and stealing away from services to gorge herself before sundown on Yom Kippur. Underlying these hijinks is filmmaker Goldin's affectionate appreciation of the differences and tensions inherent in immigration.