When Comedy Went to School: movie review

Mevlut Akkaya and Ron Frank’s reverent doc about the heyday of the Catskills comedy scene is big on repetitious observations from its distinguished roster of borscht belt alums (Jerry Lewis, Jerry Stiller), but conspicuously low on laughs. Ingratiatingly hosted by Robert Klein but marred by cheeseball re-creations, the film makes a case for New York resorts as the ultimate testing ground for Semitic stand-up from the 1930s through the ’60s, as well as an integral shaper of contemporary Jewish-American identity. But what’s missing is the onstage archival footage that would show us why this humor mattered in the first place—there are only a handful of five-second snippets.

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Release details

Cast and crew

Director: Mevlut Akkaya, Ron Frank