Frum Punk Rates Your Humor Column

We are fortunate to live in an age of variety in frum reading material. Whether you want to hear about right-wing opinions, or the even further to the right opinions, everyone is catered for. There’s such a push to provide a frum equivalent for mainstream newspapers and journals that much of our literature even has a resident humor columnist. Just like Newsweek and Time!

With so many choices, how do you know what to spend your valuable time on? Normally I would recommend simply reading my archives over and over but I’ll accept that many of you don’t have internet with you everywhere you go, so you get a pass. So if you must look for a weekly chuckle in a frum paper, let me tell you which are worth a guffaw and which are worth a guff-don’t.

Seriously Speaking – Michpacha:

Let me summarize this one with a peek into the authors mind during brainstorming: “Israeli service is slow! Obama is a liberal! Frum Jews don’t like Obama! Bibi! Israeli politics! Obama! Hahahaha, amirite people? What’s that? My column is due in two minutes? Hang on, let me just mention how this institution could be giving me the prize money instead! In shekels! Cause I live in Israel! Hahaha, amirite? Comedy gold!”

Hamodeia – Mordechai Shmutter:

I haven’t read the Hamodia in so long that I can’t remember the title of this column, but it’s easy to remember the content. Lets see; start off with a mention of something that happened to you recently then… steal one of Dave Barry’s bits from a decade ago. I understand the appeal, you write for a frum paper. Even if someone recognizes the source they won’t say anything because that’s an admission of reading secular material, which means you’re no longer frum. It’s the same way that Lev Tahor can rip off an entire Scorpions song for their second album. If you say anything, you’re a shaygetz. Problem is when I was in yeshiva Dave Barry’s anthologies were passed around like a crack pipe in a ghetto. He’s clean and hilarious. I don’t know how he gets away with plagiarizing him, but it irritates me.

Your Local Jewish Weekly:

“Oh boy, we Jews sure like to eat food and do Jewish things don’t we? Goyim, they don’t do these Jewish things, not like we do!” Oh Jackie Mason, you devil. Curse you for what you’ve spawned upon the world. Here’s a Jackie Mason joke, “Jews do this, Goyim don’t do it like this, and then the Jewish woman complains in this Brooklyn accent”. Trust me, I once did improv where I just made up Jackie Mason jokes on the spot with that formula. As long as you do the voice, you’ve got a punchline. I did it just to prove the point that that’s all there is to it. My dad loves Jackie Mason. I heard enough of it in the car to last a lifetime. Even when I was ten I saw the formula. Problem is it’s so simple that when your local Jewish Times wants a humor column, that’s all they print every week. It’s the law of the lowest common denominator.

The Coffee Room – Yeshiva World News:

Yes, while not strictly a column, I’d like to include a review of it. If only to get to my word count to appease my editor. From topics asking if it’s okay to date someone wearing an off-white shirt, to rants about how women in tight shirts are causing tsunamis in Asia, this is the best humor going in the Jewish world today. Find out if you can eat ice cream on a shidduch date, or does it run the risk of not being tzniyus. Your question will be answered by “numberonetzaddik” who assures you he’s a posek and fluent in all areas of halacha and gemora. And why would he lie?

Watch this space for a how-to on how to write and publish your own frum paper! (Hint: it involves simply printing random articles from AP News that week. Add in a columnist, letters page and some puzzles from the internet for the kids page and you’re good to go. Rinse and repeat weekly.)

15 Responses to “Frum Punk Rates Your Humor Column”

  1. THANK YOU! Now I’ll just send them all here the next time they’re down my back for reading *gasp* library books and because I don’t EVER waste money on a Mishpacha.

  2. I’m disappointed to hear that M.S. plagiarizes Dave Barry (Lev Tahor I knew about…. boy that Deaf Man in the Shteeble ripoff was an eye opener).
    Can you give an exampe?

  3. JACP: Fight the power. 🙂

    G6: Not without buying and typing up an article. Thing is, I grew up on Dave Barrys weekly column in the Miami Herald (and Parade) so when someone is rewriting his stuff word for word you better believe I’ll notice. The column I had in mind while writing this was from the last time I read one of his articles about a year ago in Hamodia Magazine. He started off talking about a flight to New York he was on recently, then proceeded to redo Dave Barry talking about how planes don’t make sense and how do they possibly get off the ground. It was very funny, especially when I first read it in the late 90s. Not everything MS does is so blatant, but I’ve seen it enough.

  4. […] Go here to review a rest: Frum Punk Rates Your Humor Column « A Frum Punk […]

  5. […] View original post here: Frum Punk Rates Your Humor Column « A Frum Punk […]

  6. I always read Dave Barry before he quit; but since I don’t read M.S. I never notice the plagiarizing–if I had, though, I’d find it just as irritating.

    I happen to like Mishpacha and think it’s a pretty decent magazine. Still, on the topic of plagiarizing: I’m still annoyed over the supposed true in-depth portrayal of a frum woman dealing with the issue of being a compulsive shopper that was almost word for word copied from one of the Shopoholic books by Sophie Kinsella. (except that it changed it from a first person to third person narrative with a Jewish name). Also, some of their supposed interviews are really clever excerpts from interviews already published in other sources pieced together with a lot of commentary inbetween. My family gets really annoyed at me when I complain about this (“what do you care?”), but I find it very deceptive–it’s not an “exclusive interview” when it’s taken out of a book published by Random House or something. Problem is, I guess they figure their readership doesn’t read outside stuff so they figure they can get away with it.

    Also, not mentioned in your post: the Yated, which I read for almost pure snark value. One thing I find the funniest is how they always quote Jay Leno or David Letterman (well now I notice it’s Conan O’Brien) but just put “NBC” or “CBS” afterwards to make it seem like it’s coming from a serious news commenter or reporter.

  7. I don’t believe this! Mordeachai Shmutter is the one part of Hamodia I actually like! Frumpunk- you’ve disillusioned me for life!

    But yeah, the news in Hamodia is taken word for word from the Jerusalem Post. Appatrently they have some deal with them, so it’s all legal. The fun part is finding the lines they’ve censored out.

  8. […] Frum Punk Rates Your Humor Column « A Frum Punk […]

  9. And this is why I don’t read Jewish newspapers/magazines or listen to American Jewish music.

    You forgot about VIN, a room full of angry 10 year olds that have been eating sugar all day.

  10. formerlyfrum Says:

    What Scorpions song did Lev Tahor, um, use?

  11. Frum Punk Says:

    Formerlyfrum: they used ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ for the first song on lev tahor 2.

  12. Still Sitting There Says:

    I own all of Dave Barry’s books and have read just about every back issue of his columns that can possibly be found anywhere online, and I find that MS does copy some of his jokes once in a while. But I think of it this way:
    1. In the typical article, MS has about 30-40 punch lines. Even in the ones where he takes a joke form Dave Barry, he uses it to create 20 more jokes that are original. He’s more like a peirush on Dave Barry.
    2. That said, (and this goes for all the Jewish writers), for the amount that Jewish writers get paid (according to MS’s articles, he needs two other jobs and freelancing to make ends meet on a tiny little house that is always falling apart,) they can’t just walk around in a bathrobe all day thinking of jokes like Harry Anderson did on “Dave’s World”. If, in the tiny amount of time they have to write a column every week on a limited amount of kosher topics, one of the jokes they write reminds them of a different joke by another writer that the audience is never going to read anyway, why not change a couple of words and stick it in?
    3. That said, MS’s style is as close to Dave Barry as any other writer has come. (And not every article is about how this is something he did recently – he does weird news, dumb criminals, things like that – and the fact that he bounces from topic to topic like that is also a trope of Dave Barry.) He obviously has studied everything the guy has ever written, to the point where some of the jokes have probably seeped into his mind subconsciously, and he doesn’t even realize he’s copying. It’s not like Dave never copied any of his own jokes from column to column, and with Dave no longer writing, then for a big DB fan (like me), it’s like he passed the torch.
    4. He would probably attribute those lines to DB if he were allowed to. But he isn’t, because
    5. Hamodia is written for people who would never read a DB column even if you told them it was 100% kosher. Just like you would never read something that was written in Chinese. But if I took a line from a Chinese book and rewrote it in English for an audience of people who would never read the Chinese version anyway, is it plagiarism? I think we would need to ask someone who knows.

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