It started with a prayer, Larry Jay Tish, a veteran performer, recalled of “The Black-Jew Dialogues” comedy show that he performs in with his Emmy-award winning friend, Ron Jones.
“I was chanting one morning (I’m a Buddhist Jew), and the title just popped into my head,” Tish said. “I knew Ron and asked if he would be interested in writing the show, and he said, ‘sure’.”
The show is centered around the experiences of both Tish and Jones, and it deals with issues like racism, discrimination and diversity. It also, allows students the opportunity to view these issues in a different light.
“It brings a new look to an old question,” Matt Altman, a sophomore Georgia State student, said.
Although the show is very powerful and eye-opening now, it surprisingly did not start off like that. In fact, Tish and Jones didn’t really have a clear purpose for it at all in the beginning.
“We didn’t really talk about content initially,” Jones said. “As we really got into it we started to do research.”
In their research, Jones and Tish stumbled across the book “Jews and Blacks: A Dialogue on Race, Religion and Culture in America” by Michael Lerner and Cornel West.
“That book started to act as a framing device for the whole show,” Jones said.
It may seem a little strange that such serious topics are being discussed in a comedy show. However, it actually makes discussion of the topics a lot easier. Racial issues, in general, are very controversial, but when they are placed in a more humor driven context, it makes them seem lighter.
“It’s so absurd that it’s funny,” Tish said. “Humor, when it is used to talk about heavy topics, makes it lighter and allows people to talk.”
Tish was referring to the fact that people often get a little uncomfortable when they are forced to confront societal problems. However, through the comedy show, people are able to open up and it becomes more of a dialogue.
Also, the show does not only focus on one set of people. Jones and Tish make fun of stereotypes in every race.
“We’re trying to put everyone on the same playing field by making jokes about everyone, but at the same time [showing them that] here is what we all have in common,” Tish said. “It makes people be more honest with themselves.”
For Tish and Jones, the show is very important because it raises awareness and it helps people to see that society has not really advanced as much people think it has. For example, Jones explained how in schools there is still a level of segregation because students often only hang out with people in their own races.
“If you look at the way that people are integrating that says something,” Jones said. “A lot of people want to believe that things get better, but they don’t unless you make them. In fact, they don’t stay the same, they get worst.”
For this reason, Tish and Jones hope to make an impact on the way that students perceive racial issues by the end of their comedy show, and they hope that students will be more conscious about them.
“It’s about learning about yourself first,” Jones said. “Then learning about others so that you can respect them because every group in the American story has been dumped on for the same reason.”
If students are interested in seeing The Black-Jew Dialogues comedy show, Tish and Jones will be at Georgia State to perform on April 17, in the room 465 of the University Center from 7-9 p.m.