I've already complained about Ricky Gervais using Anne Frank jokes in his stand-up routine. Now comes this...
Michael Winner, in his 70s, is a well-known British film director and producer, and his first American film was ''Lawman," released in 1971, starring Burt Lancaster and Robert Duvall. Born in 1935, he's been around the block a few times and now writes a weekly food column for London's Sunday Times.
For some reason, at the end of some of his columns, he tells funny Jewish jokes, using a character he calls "Hymie" as the foil.
Now a publisher in Britain has put together a collection of Winner's Jewish jokes, most of them the regular old staples about rabbis and wives and girlfriends and shopping.
The title of this book? "Michael Winner's Hymie Joke Book."
Apparently, Winner never heard about the Jesse Jackson brouhaha in 1984 when it was revealed that he referred to Jews in America as "hymies" and called New York "hymietown."
Jackson apologized for his gaffe a month later. That was almost 30 years ago. But here comes Winner with a new take on an old word. Or is this an Old World take from an old man? Or is it just that Jews in Britain use humor in a different way than Jews in the United States and Canada?
Oh, and I should mention here: Winner is Jewish.
Here's one joke from the book:
Hymie raises enough money to send his rabbi to Hawaii for a week. When the rabbi walks into his hotel room, there’s a beautiful naked woman lying on the bed. She greets the rabbi with: “Hi, Rabbi, I’m a little extra Hymie arranged for you.”
The rabbi is furious. He rings Hymie in Golders Green and shouts: “Where is your respect? I’m the moral leader of our community. You’ve not heard the end of this.”
He slams down the phone. The naked woman starts to get dressed. The rabbi says: “Where are you going? I’m not angry with YOU.”
The son of East European Jews who emigrated to Britain, Winner was born in London a few years before World War II began. He studied law and economics in college and served as an editor of the university's student newspaper.
Slowly, after college, he made his way into British show business, directing BBC television programs and cinema shorts, and occasionally writing screenplays.
Although some of the oft-told jokes in Winner's collection are indeed funny, the decision to call the main character in most of the jokes
''Hymie'' seems unfortunate, at least to this blogger.
Maybe Britain and America are really very different countries, and if so, then so be it.
Still, when I saw the title of Winner's book, I almost fell off my chair.
No, in fact, I did fall off my chair.