Curmudgeon. Contrarian. Misanthrope. Naysayer. For all the people interviewed in this film, someone has used one of the above words to describe them. What have they done to deserve such labels? Everywhere these men and women go, something is being celebrated; they don’t get what all the celebration is about and they’re compelled to question it.
From the 1930’s to the 1970’s, pretty well every comedian or comic you might see on TV or the movies was Jewish. Jews came to dominate the world of western‐society comedy on radio, stage and screen alike.Why did Jews dominate comedy in this period? And why did that domination end? Were Jews just funnier back then? And if so, did that extend to your average Jew on the street? In this 90 minute documentary acclaimed director Alan Zweig will examine these questions and many others in this exploration of 20th century humour, cultural decay, and a search for a missing heritage.
After running into a neighbourhood acquaintance at the local used record store who shared his list of 15 reasons to live, Alan Zweig felt a strong compulsion to make a film on the subject, despite his admission, “I didn’t make lists and I never thought about reasons to live.” From this inspiration begins a series of episodic chapters adapted to the themes of Ray Robertson’s collection of essays. The participants are as eclectic as the list, sharing personal anecdotes related to (among other themes) work, love, intoxication, humour, solitude, duty, home and death. Humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, Zweig’s compassion for his subjects and their stories, expressed through his conversational and candid interview style, ties these vignettes together in a visual essay that strikes deeper chords about finding meaning in our existence. Amongst his subjects’ reasons to live Zweig finds a couple of his own in his touching, honest and endearing way.