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.)