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SchmoozeDance 2008 Has Swan Song in Park City

Sundance

Sundance Film Festival

SchmoozeDance 2008 had its largest, and perhaps final appearance, tonight before a full capacity audience at Temple Har Shalom in Park City, Utah. For its eighth year, the Jewish film festival that coincides with Sundance and Slamdance, sponsored an Oneg Shabbat, falafel buffet, and film screening on Friday evening.

The highlights of this year’s Schmooze, aside from a bowl of hummus that was as big as an eight year old child, were previews of upcoming releases, including Adam Sandler’s DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN and the Hebrew language NOODLE, and MAKING TROUBLE, directed by Rachel Talbot.

MAKING TROUBLE documents the lives and struggles of six legendary, funny Jewish American women who broke social and cultural barriers to make us laugh. Between the clips, it is narrated by four contemporary Jewish standup comediennes at Katz’ New York Deli on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

The six women profiled are Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Gilda Radner, Wendy Wasserstein, and Joan Rivers, who proved that comedy is easy, but being a Jewish woman in comedy is hard. Five of the six women profiled are no longer living, while the sixth is living, although parts of her body have perhaps been disposed of in a New Jersey landfill. Then again, is doing red carpet interviews really living?

MAKING TROUBLE had its start when Rachel Talbot, the director of Saturday Night Live compilation films, was hired to produce a short film for a benefit for one of Boston’s leading Jewish female philanthropists and leaders. Seeing that there was enough of story for a full length documentary, Talbot embarked on a larger project to compile interviews, archival footage, and photographs from performances by the featured comedians, giving audiences a glimpse into each of their lives and careers over the last century. The film illuminates what it meant at the time to be Jewish, to be female, and to dream of making it on the stage and screen.

Sophie Tucker (nee Tuck), left behind her one-year-old son and Hartford Orthodox Jewish community, to make it as a black-face, sexually charged vaudeville singer; Fanny Brice, a zany performer who sang with a made-up Yiddish accent was earning over $250,000 a year during the Great Depression, but still got a nose job in 1923 to further her career; Molly Picon, a gender-bender who played the roles of teenagers well into her forties, performed nine shows weekly to meet the demands of the new immigrant population that adored her; Wendy Wasserstein, whose plays featured strong women struggling for autonomy in a man’s world, wrestled with her own issues of being a woman and being Jewish in front of Broadway audiences; Joan Rivers worked the comedy clubs of New York City for years, often as the only woman comedian in the club, and with a frank brashness that few women had the courage to express; Gilda Radner was Jewish and glamorous, and found the funny in the pain, openly revealing herself to viewers under the harsh lights of Saturday Night Live in her classic roles as “Roseanne Roseannadanna,” the nerdy “Lisa Loopner,” (who I always thought was Lisa Lubner), and the star of the “Jewess Jeans” commercial (“she got designer clothes… and a designer nose”).

This will be the final year of SchmoozeDance in its current form, since Temple Har Shalom, the host of the festival, has signed a five year agreement with the Sundance Institute to be an official venue for the Sundance Film Festival, beginning in 2009. Since the inception of SchmoozeDance, the synagogue has grown from a few dozen members and a part-time rabbi, to over 310 family memberships and a full time rabbi and religious school. Har Shalom, siturated among several ski resorts, has gained fame for its Friday afternoon Ski Shul, where skiers can pray and study in a lodge located directly on a ski slope.

Even funnier than the clips is the banter over deli food, knishes, and pickles by the four hosts, Jackie Hoffman, Judy Gold, Jessica Kirson, and Corey Kahaney (the gaelic version of Kahane, it was easier to find work with an Irish name), who discuss the state of current comedy, growing up Jewish, dysfunctional families as a root to comedy careers, and playing male leads in a female yeshiva. They were promised as much free deli food (and doggie bags) as they wished in exchange for their participation. Ahh.. there truly is no business like show business.

Youtube has videos for DON’T MESS WITH ZOHAN, NOODLE, and MAKING TROUBLE… the clips are at

http://youtube.com/watch?v=MGyPEt2sucY
http://youtube.com/watch?v=E7oaoKkh0m4
http://youtube.com/watch?v=UzJynjw_4dw
http://youtube.com/watch?v=-6qnpWNO8GI
gilda radner: jewess jeans!

Written by Larry Mark from Jewishfilm.com for Jewlicious.

Larry enjoys sitting in dark rooms surrounded by lots of people, and also watching films. When he sits in lit rooms, he enjoys editing Jewishfilm.com and MyJewishBooks.com.

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Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.
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