In an era where a Broadway megamusical can shutter with a $60 million loss (I'm looking at you, Spiderman), there's something refreshing about the shamelessly simple Old Jews Telling Jokes, the popular Off Broadway play now playing at Chicago's Royal George Theatre.
Perhaps it starts with the title, which is about as straightforward as you can get. Based on a popular website, the show features five actors -- most of them well-known and beloved favorites in the Chicago theatre community -- reveling in the deep history of Jewish hilarity. And three of the five cast members are past middle age.
While there are certainly no surprises in the concept, what does delight is how satisfying a well delivered joke can be -- it truly is an artform perfected by this cast. Who doesn't enjoy a bawdy joke delivered with precise comic timing?
The show offers an evening of wry, self-deprecating and often (inoffensively) dirty jokes, peppered with musical numbers and brief tributes to the Jewish icons of the comedy world. Because a good joke is a good joke, the show rattles the funny bone regardless of your belief system. And clocking under 90 minutes, Old Jews Telling Jokes honors a timeless tradition for a time-bound audience.
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