The Litvaks Are Not Funny

The film shows at the Museum of Modern Art attract a strange audience. Very old people who come to all the shows tend to talk throughout the experimental work or leave. People drift in and out. The serious remain. Very big audiences become small ones. It’s a hard crowd to figure.

One night when I was there, before the start of the film, a young man leaped onto the stage and announced that he was an unemployed actor looking for a role in a movie. He pointed to his seat and urged anyone interested to contact him then and there. Smiling, he leaped from the stage and the audience applauded.

We became a more relaxed crowd and I remarked casually to the elderly women beside me, “New York is such a crazy place.”

Her answer was less casual. She replied: “Yes, that’s because of the Galiciani. The Litvaks are not funny.” She paused and continued: “The English are Jews. Gaelic is Hebrew but no one knew this until Pittman invented shorthand and then without the vowels it was clear that Gaelic and Hebrew were the same. The English are Jews.” Her hand waved in front of her and she said: “My daughter wrote the best art book ever written. It’s across the street at the Donnell Library. My husband invented radar. All the books are across the street.” I consider this and the lights dim.

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