By Ira Seidenstein

May 19, 2024

Weber and Fields I consider a keystone to modern Clown.

As you may know or As You (may not) Like It:)… I’m approaching the 5th year of casual coincidental ‘research’ towards my 3rd book “Remnants: Encounters With My Culture”. In part the subject was initiated by just a few individual participants in several of my workshops.

Each asked a version of: ‘Ira, why are there so many Jewish clowns’. Each time I answered “I don’t know”.

26th September 1932: ‘Weber & Fields’, the famous stage team of Joe Weber (1867 – 1942) & Lew Fields (1867 – 1941) with the gold Loving Cups which were presented to them at a dinner in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of their association on the stage, Waldorf-Astoria, New York City. (Photo by New York Times Co./Getty Images)

Of course I had heard the usual ‘reasons’ why there are so many Jewish comedians. But, the reasons given, I never accepted as the whole truth. Those clichés have some semblance of ‘truth’, yet, I always found them far from complete. The same question applied to clowns, comedians and many other particular fields… I felt that the answers were by ‘denialists’:). Finally I decided to try to find the reasons. I decided to pursue via a different approach.

My different approach applied to various fields shows that I ‘hear the beat of a different drummer’. For example, after I was in the Performing Arts for over 10 years I landed in Sydney and there I suddenly became most interested in seeing performances of scripted Plays of all sorts. There were quite a few new plays being produced; along with many devised shows which developed their own scripts. Plus there were Classic plays on offer which I had read about but had never seen.

I found that most of the new plays and devised works were more satisfying to watch than the Classic or more ‘straight’ plays. I suspected a) the straight Classical plays used the standard operating procedure for the first rehearsal. There the actors and director would sit around a table or sit in a circle and would read the script aloud with each actor speaking their own lines and trying to reply on cue.

PLAY READING. I felt that the standard practice had an inbuilt fault. The actors were sitting and not on their feet and not encouraged to move. However a text is meant to be lived and acted not just spoken. Actors tend to read at first without really taking a risk in how they might speak the text. Further there may often be discussions during or just after the first reading. Things are spoken of before they’ve been tried.

REHEARSAL. I also noted repeatedly that when I saw a Play very often it seemed like it took the actors at least the first 10 or 15 minutes of the Play for the actors to ‘warm up’ to each other, to the audience, and even to themselves. Invariably… the 2nd half of the show was much better. Simply because by then the actors were properly or adequately warmed up.

Therefore when I started to direct Plays and even when I was hired to assist in the direction and staging I would have the actors up on their feet from the beginning. I would always encourage them to move and take an energetic approach to speaking their text. I do feel that generally the art has progressed since those days. Additionally, as a Director I always taught my Quantum Warm-up that was thorough yet time saving. Then each actor had their own time to take care of any individual techniques they preferred to add.

RESEARCHING. When researching I tend to go about things in a variety of roundabout ways. I call it meandering. I also allow that research is or can be as much intuitive as rational. I am not really interested in ‘knowing everything’ about a topic. I am more interested to know what really counts or what is most potent. I feel that the idea that someone will know ALL about a topic is a faulty approach that leads to repetition but not to discovery.

In a sense there are two main sides to research. One is to rationally accumulate information; but, the other is intuitive discovery. Such intuitive discoveries then need a rational framing. The intuitive discoveries also encourage one to follow up and to accumulate unforeseen information

I soon veered off slightly from ‘why are there so many…’ be in clown, comedians, or Jewish anything and put the classic question into my sights. That question is and always has been any or each of the following variations: “What is a Jew”; “What is it to be Jewish”; “What is Judaism”; and, “Who are the Jews”?

Although I certainly have some answers I am still in a deep and enjoyable process of ongoing realizations about my own Culture.

However this blog/essay is about the answers provided by an outstanding researcher and historian – Francisco Gil-White: “Anthropologist, historian, journalist, political analyst. MA in Social Sciences (University of Chicago). Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology (UCLA). I have taught at UPENN (Philadelphia), at ITAM (Mexico City) and at UMA (Valle de Bravo, Mexico).”

In a certain historical way Francisco Gil-White, PhD has found his answer to the true nature of the Jewish dynamic as entwined with World History.

Here I simply provide 3 of Gil-White’s online essays. Each is beautifully researched and written. The essay is about 1848 as a global socio-political turning point – with clear repercussions to us all today.


Although his essays always include links, I present first an essay connected to my questions. Then the 1848 essay. Followed by the first essay’s Part 2.There will be a Part 3 but Gil-White has not yet completed that.

Gil-White #1

Gil-White #2

Gil-White #3

Further Information: including blog/essays. Direct Contact:

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Ira Seidenstein