Ivor Dembina: Old Jewish Jokes

This show doesn’t disappoint. As the publicity suggests, Ivor Dembina provides a lively hour of stand-up comedy, and whist I am in no position to dispute its claim to be the “Fringe’s all-time favourite Jewish comedy show”, I can confirm that there are guaranteed laughs for Jews and gentiles alike.

Old Jewish Jokes is a different stand-up hour that is well-worth seeing.

The space in Finnegan’s Wake is small and the audience are right up against Dembina. They are subject to his own particular audience interaction style, his anxious looks for reassurance about his observations from Jews within the audience, and his muttered line after each round of laughter, ‘yes, tell them the old jokes, the old jokes’.

The show itself is a series of jokes and observations about Jews, their relationships, stereotypes and culture (Israel and the Holocaust are two topics covered). It is the story of Dembina’s difficult fundraising performance at his local synagogue on which these jokes are hung. This is a show that doesn’t shy away from discussing or using stereotypes about Jews, but connecting together the disparate set piece jokes and Dembina’s own highly amusing anecdotes is a difficult task, and one that is only loosely managed. The jokes were like pretty (and funny) clothes on a little too widely spaced clothes hanger. However, Dembina is a talented enough comic for this to not really matter and the audience, who cackled throughout, certainly didn’t seem to care.

Old Jewish Jokes is a different stand-up hour that is well-worth seeing. It’s a free show, but it’s best to book ahead to guarantee yourself a seat. 

Reviews by Joseph Spencer

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The Blurb

Fourth year for the Fringe's all-time favourite Jewish comedy show. Traditional great Jewish gags plus a revealing insight into the life of the modern Jewish comic. **** (Scotsman). ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). **** (Mirror). Admission free, Gentiles half price.

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