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When Comedy Went to School (2013)

2:18 | Trailer
The birth of modern stand-up comedy began in the Catskill Mountains - a boot camp for the greatest generation of Jewish-American comedians.


Mevlut Akkaya, Ron Frank


Lawrence Richards (conceived by), Lawrence Richards





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Klein ... Himself - Host
Jerry Lewis ... Himself
Sid Caesar ... Himself
Jackie Mason ... Himself
Larry King ... Himself
Mort Sahl ... Himself
Jerry Stiller ... Himself
Mickey Freeman Mickey Freeman ... Himself
Dick Gregory ... Himself
Hugh Hefner ... Himself
Dick Capri Dick Capri ... Himself
Amy Stiller ... Herself
Wendy Liebman Wendy Liebman ... Herself
Cory Kahaney ... Herself (as Corey Kahaney)
Marc Maron ... Himself


The birth of modern stand-up comedy began in the Catskill Mountains - a boot camp for the greatest generation of Jewish-American comedians.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The birth of modern standup comedy began in the Catskill Mountains.



Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

6 June 2013 (USA) See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,001, 4 August 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$367,913, 20 April 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Catskill Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Features The Bellboy (1960) See more »


Nekhome (Solace)
(from Prelude 4)
by Frédéric Chopin (as F. Chopin)
Arranged by Michael McLoughlin
Performed by Shirim Klezmer Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

Take My Movie - Please!
2 October 2013 | by soncomanSee all my reviews

If you recognize the title of this review as a slight modification of the classic Henny Youngman one-liner, then you are sure to enjoy "When Comedy Went to School", a new documentary that examines the roots of American stand-up comedy and the role of one geographic area in particular.

The geographic area I refer to is the Catskill Mountains, located in upstate New York. Developed as a summer getaway from the crowds and humidity of the New York Metro area, resorts sprung up to cater to these usually urban, usually Jewish vacationers. The Catskills by day provided ample opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, sporting and the like. But it was at night that the resorts really came to life, via massive quantities of food in the dining halls and the live entertainment provided as part of the dining experience. The easiest entertainment to provide was, luckily for us, comedy.

The death of vaudeville and the crackdown on burlesque led to a plethora of entertainers eager to perform for a large audience. The Catskill resorts provided a stage for veteran performers to ply their trade for an appreciative audience and for newcomers to build the foundation of a successful career. In a world where comedy is performed in chain-clubs, college auditoriums, coffee shops and on cable television, it's easy to forget that not too long ago there weren't many places for a comedian to be "bad" and learn his craft. The Catskill resorts were, in essence, this country's mid-century comedy school.

And what a school it was, with such "students" as Sid Caesar, Jerry Stiller, Jackie Mason, Jerry Lewis, Mort Sahl et al. They all spent time on a Catskill resort stage. Comedian Robert Klein introduces great archival photographs and film footage that take us back to a time and place that really no longer exists. Interviews with the aforementioned students (and others) provide us with an inside look at how the Catskills came to be the place to go for comedy, and how the Catskills came to not be the place to go for comedy. (Three simple reasons – television, the sixties, and Woodstock…)

Clocking in at a quick 76 minutes, "When Comedy Went to School" is a quick refresher course on the fundamentals of American comedy and an examination of the prevalence of Judaism as the starting point for the majority of comedians of this era. It's a rare course in which I would have gladly spent more time.


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