The Lighter Side! Americanisms, Phil Rosenthal and Judge the dog!

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The Lighter Side! Americanisms, Phil Rosenthal and Judge the dog!

Brigit's little bit of this and little bit of that, includes the star of Netflix show 'Somebody Feed Phil' appearing on the Simpsons, and some adorable pooches!

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Judge Waffle, Schitt’s Creek, Better Things and Phil in the Simpsons
Judge Waffle, Schitt’s Creek, Better Things and Phil in the Simpsons

Where there’s a will, there’s OY VEY

In her column last week colleague Jenni Frazer highlighted the many differences between us and the folks across the pond. Duly noting the absence of kettles and egg cups, she also touched upon American spelling, which was a bone of contention between myself and the staff I worked with living in New York. 

According to my NYC team vowels such as the ‘e’ in aging and ‘u’ in labor are redundant and they howled at my pronunciation of Leicester (they say Licester) and aluminium (aloominum!).             

I took their grammar jibes on the chin and referenced “the Queen’s English” to which some wise guy retorted: “Yes, I heard she was!” But Jenni’s column was about more than  ‘theater’ at the ‘center’ of a shared language. She had spotted a US story about a group of people requesting the personalised number plate ‘Florida Stands With Israel’ and wondered whether such a plate would exist here? Unlikely I’d say, as a driver with “Chigwell Stands With Israel” on their bumper would have to stay within the IG7 postcode to avoid trouble.

And that’s the rub. Sure Americans have trouble with their orthography, too many weapons and a deluded cantaloupe as President, but pick the right zip code in a moderate state and you can display Holy Land allegiance across your dashboard.

Visiting my cousin Melanie in Westchester,  Los Angeles with a mezuzah on your bonnet is not a problem and it’s ok to introduce yourself as Goldstein beyond Brooklyn’s Borough Park in New York. Not so much in Blighty, where  we anglicise our names to feel comfortable, as the continual mispronunciation of ‘Gershkovich’ over a tannoy gets under our tribal skin. Yet there are US states where a heimishe moniker is practically a blessing and nowhere more so than Burbank where the film and TV show credits always boast at least one Gershkovich, five Goldbergs or in the case of Schitt’s Creek two Levys. 

Schitt’s Creek

Father and son Eugene and Daniel Levy are the creators and stars of the Schitt show which won nine Emmys last month, proving its possible to produce a hit about a bankrupt Jewish family forced to relocate to a backwater town without using kletzmer music.

Sadly this is not the case in the UK where the arrival of Jews on the small screen is usually heralded by an Ashkenazi folk soundtrack regardless of the era or location.

Evidently a fiddler on the roof  is required to help a British audience identify ‘us’ along with a residue of Eastern Europe in the accent of every elderly Jew.

A few shaloms and a challah on the table suffice in a UK Jewish sitcom, while in America it’s not only acceptable to spit out three times, reference Yom Kippur, barmitzvahs and brisket, but positively the norm in shows such as Transparent, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Schitt’s Creek Broad City, Difficult People and The Goldbergs. 


We can watch all of them here which is good news since the chances of a comedy called The Goldbergs being commissioned is as likely as an ‘Islington stands with Israel’ number plate. But the appeal of these American shows for me is the ease with which the characters identify and blend in without a ‘JEW’ signpost, but still call a fool, a nudnik. For casual simchas and faith acceptance however,there is nothing better than FX’s Better Things. 

The series also on BBC I player (thank God) is about a divorced Jewish actress with three daughters and an eccentric mother navigating life with biting wit and big heart. Written by and starring Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox, Better Things is an honest, funny, moving study of Jewish womanhood which must confuse Middle America, but I doubt Adlon cares. The acting is a revelation and a sensible man would snap up Sam Fox, while I just want to toast her with Palwins and thank her for nailing what’s essential in an authentic Jewish character: for the record, it’s feelings – big, emotive reactions to everything and Yiddish words when nothing else will do. Better Things will get you through a tough winter and I’d advise leaving the numberplate switch until spring.

Amazing Pamela Adlon with her Better Things

Cartoon Phil 

Phil in real life

Our New Year magazine was right on the money, for there among the many features was an interview with Phil Rosenthal, the star of Netflix Somebody Feed Phil.

Then just days ays after we published, Phil, the producer of Everybody Loves Raymond got his own spot on The Simpsons in cartoon form and sampled the snacks at Moe’s bar.

Renowned for his global tour of restaurants, Phil knows about tasty, but the food at Springfield’s most popular watering hole wasn’t up too much. It will be hands on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Next I tweeted – but he’ll need to let go of that  fork first !

Phil in The Simpsons

What a Wag

No pandemic pup roll call could be complete without the arrival of Judge Waffle, the cockapoo who’s taken up residence at the home of Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer. Judge, as he is informally known in familial circles, has already appeared at JN editorial meetings on Zoom and visited Waggingtons in Mill Hill for behaviour lessons.

Judge Waffle!

“It’s like the Groucho Club for dogs,” said Ferrer, who previously had a penchant for cats – particularly the concerned Devon Rex in the picture called Super Injunction.

We also welcome golden doodle Nala and Buster, the Cairn terrier. Keep sending the pup pics to me at along with your thoughts.



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