A Story As Relevant Today As It Was During The McCarthy Era…
A curmudgeonly Jewish comedy screenwriter from MGM comes up against the Communist blacklist in 1950’s Hollywood. He now has to make the biggest decision of his life. Armed with stories about the great era of Jewish humor, this poignant solo comedy shows one small man facing the tough American events of the mid-20th century.
In 1950’s Hollywood, at the height of the Communist Blacklist, when careers were ruined by a whisper, we meet irascible comedy screenwriter Bernie Lutz. Funny and lovable, Bernie has made his way up the ladder by being a spineless Hollywood sellout. Now, the night before a big red carpet premiere that will make Bernie’s career, he has been asked to name names and give up his friend. He has one day to decide if he will accede to government demands and save his skin, or protect his friend and save his soul in the most serious decision of his life. One man’s journey through a historical reality as well as into the depths of his own soul is the heart of this multi-layered, compelling, and relevant play.
... furious and funny and at times even awe-inspiring. James Hebert • The San Diego Union~Tribune
A solo tour de force powerfully performed by Johnson and forcefully co-written by him and Marni Freedman. One actor — the telephone doesn’t belong to the union — and a very simple set makes it a great prospect for off-Broadway. Producers, take note. Myra Chanin • The Huffington Post
Phil Johnson delivers a moving and memorable performance... in an astounding one-man performance with a script that is all too uncomfortably contemporary. He delivers a tour de force performance... Director David Ellenstein matches the sizzling writing with a production that beautifully builds tension. What’s most impressive is Johnson’s emotionally compelling performance. He moves Bernie from a glib huckster who shills cheap jokes with abandon to a desperate man clinging to his life and his livelihood. A Jewish Joke is both humorous and harrowing. Johnson powerfully displays the good, the bad and the ugly… Ladue News • St. Louis
Johnson is a sensational performer, able to portray a range of emotions that shake your foundations like a seismic event.’ 'I give it full houses, standing ovations, and a thunderous applause. This impressive production needs a lengthy run in NYC. NY Theatre Guide
Excellent… It's powerful and relevant material, laced with great helpings of humor, and thoroughly deserving of a hearty recommendation. Splendid work. Hilarious and heart-breaking. David Ellenstein's direction is smoothly worked out so that there's never a static moment. Just as important today as it was then BroadwayWorld