Have you booked your tickets to A is for Apple, and want to get in the bat mitzvah zone early? Are you keen to top up your coffers of Jewish feminist comedy? Ready to dip your toe into a new cultural pond you’ve never swum in before? Never fear—playwright Jessica Bellamy’s list of things to see before you book A is for Apple is here! Below, Jessica takes us through some contemporary works, and old favourites, that helped her develop and define her personal flavour of female-centric, uniquely Jewish comedy. So limber up your funny bone, fire up Netflix, and dive on in.
1. Broad City
From the first episode, when we hear Abbi and Ilana put out a a Craiglist add titled, ‘We’re Just 2 Jewesses Tryin’ to Make a Buck’, you’ll be hooked. Watching these best friends reclaim frizzy hair and digestive instabilities made me crow with joy, as did their feminist consciousness and love of rap music. (Never have I screamed louder at a television show than when Ilana called herself ‘Nicki Minashkenazi!’) Let’s not forget guest appearances by Fran Drescher and Susie Essman.
2. Big Mouth
With characters like the constantly broigos Mr Glouberman, and Jessi’s mum dating a Cantor from Shule, Jewish references in this show are more than just decorative. For a show seemingly about puberty, Big Mouth is also majorly focused on the personal and cultural anxieties of Jewish people. There’s references to grandparent guilt, a Bat Mitzvah scene, and an entire episode focused around the Passover story.
3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Yet another great show focused on anxiety and insecurity—which you probably realise by now is a common theme. Jews bond over nerves and digestion like nothing else—and this show amps things up a bit more with big musical numbers about generational guilt, with a klezmer twang.
4. Difficult People
If you haven’t seen Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner riff on how terrible everyone and everything is, then you’re missing out. Julie and Billy’s characters perfectly encapsulate the disaffected millennial Jewish experience—you hate how earnest other people can be about their religious identity, but you also wouldn’t mind if someone invited you to their cousin’s bar mitzvah every now and then. Billy also introduced us to vox pops like ‘Whistle Blow That Jew‘—the sort of cringe comedy that you can only make from within the culture.
5. Other amazing women: This list could go on and on, but instead I’ll cram some comedy icons into my final point. Fran Drescher, who made Jewish identity visible, and part of the household vernacular, in the 90s, as well as the amazing Sylvia- and Yetta-isms that we’ve all found ourselves uttering. A special shout out also to Jewish comedians like Amy Schumer, Tiffany Haddish, Sarah Silverman and Jenny Slate, who bring us into the culture in an approachable and hilarious way.
I hope this list was a handy introduction to—or reminder of—the hilarious Jewish comedy available for our consumption. Please join us at Griffin Theatre Company to continue that journey via a home-grown theatrical story, during the season of A is for Apple!
A is for Apple by Jessica Bellamy opens on Thursday 31 March and will show until Saturday 9 April at the SBW Stables Theatre. Book now!