Mevlut Akkaya and Ron Frank direct this mildly entertaining documentary about the rise of Jewish stand-up comedians and how they used resorts in the Catskills Mountains as their boot camp to hone their comedic skills. Robert Klein serves as host for this overview covering the 1930s through the 1960s with appearances by Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, Jerry Stiller, Larry King and others.
We learn that Jewish immigrants living in New York City were attracted to humor as a survival tool and turned to Yiddish theatre and then to vaudeville before showing up in large numbers at the over 500 hotels in what came to be known as "the Borscht Belt." The documentary includes clips of comedians testing their material on audiences so they could refine their skills in improvisation.
Edmund Kean, a 19th century Shakespearean actor, was asked as he lay on his deathbed how he was feeling. He replied, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard!" This documentary pays tribute to the playful spirit of these Jewish comedians who found many different ways to combat anti-Semitism and to affirm the robust human spirit.