Old Jews Telling Jokes: as Youtube series go, this one has a certain conceptual purity. That its videos have become very popular indeed won’t come as a surprise to anyone who grew up in a large Jewish family; you want a joke told right, you go to the top of the family tree. We’ve seen jokes told by dentists, businessmen and even the likes of lawyer and political commentator Alan Dershowitz and former New York City mayor Ed Koch. Above you’ll see “I Want to Have a Monkey,” one of the series’ jokes told by graphic designer and New York magazine co-founder Milton Glaser, creator of logos for DC Comics, the Brooklyn Brewery, and of course, in the form of the universally recognized I ♥ NY, his city. You can learn more about his 60-year design career in the short documentary by Hillman Curtis just below:
Unlike most of the videos’ stars, who stand in front of a standard white background, Glaser tells his jokes in a more interesting setting: his longtime office, of which you’ll see more in Curtis’ documentary. When the Old Jews Telling Jokes crew turned up, they found in this force of graphic design a veritable fount of punchlines. He demonstrates his comedic acumen in eight other episodes: “The Resurrecting Rabbi,” “Magician and a Sledgehammer,” “Two Garmentos,” “Edward R. Murrow,” “Am I Thirsty,” “Elephant and Crocodile,” “I’d Like to Be Castrated,” and “The Parrot.” Here we have another lesson to take from our elders, or at least from this specific elder: you can’t just rise to and remain for decades at the very top of your exotic and challenging field. You’ve also got to have good timing.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.