Comedians like Milton Berle took the moral mensch along as they made the move from the Borsht Belt
to Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, and the word seeped into the American mainstream.
Tonight you'll learn that I had a three season career as a stand-up comedian in Chicago's version of the Borsht belt
. What you'll hear at this tribute to Zev is that I had an even shorter career, for obvious reasons, as a singer songwriter.
The 12-minute loop loosely resembles a 1950s Borsht Belt
standup routine by a ring-in comic or illusionist, but given the surrounding dark gray floor and white walls, all the action seems to be taking place in an institution--whether modernist white cube or local insane asylum, take your pick--rather than a secluded resort in upstate New York where (surprise, surprise) this piece had its debut.
"Ach," he says, assuming a Borsht Belt
comic's accent, "it's all vaudeville.
Creating a link between Post-World War II, Borsht Belt
stand-up comedy and contemporary Jewish stand-up comedy, Donald Weber, in the most historicized essay in this collection, argues that Jewish stand-up comedy has significantly changed over the last thirty to forty years from embodying an antagonistic, self-hating relationship to Jewishness to engaging a more positive and affirmative attitude toward Jewishness.