I have interviewed entrepreneurs, scholars, children and movie stars, but have never encountered a group like this.
Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel and Adam Mansbach will present their book, “A Field Guide to the Jewish People” as part of the Book Festival of the MJCCA Sept. 26.
Over the phone (since we were all in different cities) all three of these loony, extemporaneous comedians/writers were shouting over each other, insulting each other and laughing at themselves. Fun gig, right?
“On the MJCC stage, they want Alan to be off to the side because his head size is so large,” Barry said. “Dumpsters are huge, dinosaurs have small brains, and everyone stares just at Alan’s head.”
The book addresses baffling questions: Why do random Jewish holidays keep springing up unexpectedly? Why are yarmulkes round? Who was the first Jewish comedian? Or as it says on the book cover: “Where Do They Come From, What to Feed Them, What They Have Against Foreskins, How Come They Carry Each Other Around on Chairs, Why They Fled Egypt by Running Straight to a Large Body of Water, and Much More. Maybe Too Much More.”
Get ready to laugh as you finally begin to understand the inner workings of Judaism from this book, and why Elvis was like Moses.
See if you can make sense of any of these very complex basics of Judaism explained this way:
Creation: Barry asked, “How did Adam and Eve know how to sew clothing? Was one of those little kits hanging around with needles, patterns, … Why did she sew a ‘girdle’ specifically? Was the tree full of carbs?”
Are Jews just naturally funny? Look at the history of our great comedians, Mansbach said. “Jews have influenced all of America. Our comedy was born out of fleeing and depression. Let’s just keep it light. Who has ever heard of Christian comedy?”
Jewish parenting example: Zweibel said, “G-d didn’t have to instruct Isaac to slay his son. This was a horrible example of a voice/instruction. He could have told him to just try a ‘time out.’”
Why Dave Barry, who is not Jewish, wants to be in this group: “I’m a ‘Jewish wanna be’ because my wife is Jewish, and I am circumcised.” He is mesmerized by the high holidays. He puts on a suit and sits for what seems like 18 hours. More problematic is that he feels they come every three months with two hours notice, and there is no way to predict when they will come. Being in Miami, he better knows when a hurricane is coming. Bottom line, “I’m more Jewish than most Jews.”
High holiday advice: “Drink espresso when you fast … that’s the Reform way,” Mansbach begins. “Start practicing now to prepare to fast. During this phone call is the extent of my fasting … I want to ask forgiveness (Al Hayt) from your readers for all the parts of the book that Alan wrote.” Zweibel chimed in, “I typed the book and wrote 30 words and provided beverages …. Also, I have written a lot of books with the ‘f’ word in the title because they sell like crazy. It actually is the interior monologue in my head attempting to be a parent.”
Last word: Do you really not have any friends like you state in the book?
“Who would have us as friends?”
They kept referring to me (the writer here) as Joyce Carol Oates or Joyce Brothers … so someone please figure this out!
To witness these legends in the flesh, get tickets for their appearance and book signing at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Book Festival of the MJCCA. You’re sure to have a jolly Jewish time.
About the Authors
Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor writer and bestselling author whose work has appeared in hundreds of newspapers. The New York Times has pronounced him the funniest man in America.
Adam Mansbach is a novelist, screenwriter, cultural critic and humorist. He is the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, “Go the F*** to Sleep,” which has been translated into 40 languages, named Time magazine’s 2011 Thing of the Year, and has sold more than 2 million copies.
Alan Zweibel wrote for Dave Letterman, “Saturday Night Live,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He won many Emmys and collaborated with Billy Crystal on “700 Sundays.”