Making Trouble

A documentary explores the challenges of being Jewish, female and funny

The documentary Making Trouble highlights the careers of six Jewish women who wanted to make jokes rather than be jokes. In the first half of the 20th century, entertainers loved to parody the stereotypical Jewish woman. She was loud, obnoxious and overbearing, and more importantly, she didn’t object to the portrayal. That’s because “she” was usually a man in drag.

The flip side to the stereotype was that in reality, Jewish women were only to be outspoken in the house. In public they were quiet, shy and, if they weren’t drop-dead gorgeous, virtually invisible. This made for a difficult climb to the top for Jewish female entertainers such as Molly Picon, Fanny Brice and Sophie Tucker. Later, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner and Wendy Wasserstein joined the list. In Making Trouble, their stories are told through a roundtable discussion with some of today’s leading Jewish female comedians — Judy Gold, Jackie Hoffman, Cory Kahaney and Jessica Kirson — who explain how Brice, Tucker and company paved the way for future entertainers to defy stereotypes, and culture’s expectations, by drowning them out with laughter and applause.

Today’s screening is at 1 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets and information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6 to $7. Part of the Houston Jewish Film Festival which runs through March 23, Making Trouble screens again 1 p.m. March 21 at the Kaplan Theatre, Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood. For information, call 713-729-3200 or visit www.jcchouston.org. $6 to $8.
Sun., March 16, 1 p.m., 2008

 
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