Jewtopia filthy, repetitive, crude and wickedly funny

Every so often we are forced to take bold, unequivocal stands on the issues of the day. I, for one, unequivocally love lox. Love it. Love it.

But the thing about lox is, once you’ve had enough you’ve had enough. One bagel’s worth of lox is fine. Two bagel’s worth, on occasion, can be done. But the only reason to consume a pound of lox is if your next appointment is at the gallows.

This talk of lox (not of executions) leads to “Jewtopia” by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, the playwrights and actors behind the successful Broadway musical of the same name. The authors are both unquestionably funny and their book is, at times, uproariously so. Yet, like the savory smoked salmon, after a while it morphs from a delicacy to a difficulty.

Fogel and Wolfson’s tome could be described as the overtly Semitic version of Jon Stewart’s “America (the Book),” which sold roughly a billion copies and shocked older readers with photoshopped images of buck-naked Supreme Court justices.

Like Stewart’s book, “Jewtopia” cribs the appearance of a 10th-grade grade social studies textbook — it is crammed with a plethora of small pictures accompanied by snarky captions and leans heavily on expertly created graphics pages with short, biting bits of text.

It’s also not a book you may want to open at random at social gatherings. A 70-year-old friend of mine managed to jolt fellow partygoers at her senior apartment by inadvertently opening to the chapter called “The Jewish Kama Sutra,” which features cartoons of an unmistakably Semitic couple engaging in positions such as “The Minyan,” “The Challah” and “Bubbe’s Visit” (he’s behind her while she cleans up the house). For the faint of heart, a warning: the Jewish Kama Sutra is on page 114.

Like the newspaper the Onion, Fogel and Wolfson know how to hit hard with a funny picture and caption. Unfortunately, their longer articles similarly often devolve into middling rants punctuated by gratuitous profanities (though I will admit I did laugh when the two dissected Israel’s victory over its Arab neighbors in the Six-Day War in terms of what sexual acts the Jewish state forced upon the aggressors. I even learned what a “blumpkin” is (which you sure won’t here).

Other top-quality lines:

•”Eventually Jacob, a.k.a. Israel, married Rachel and her hot sister, Leah, fulfilling every young man’s dream of getting to bang two sisters at the same time.”

• “Some say the braided challah looks like intertwined arms, symbolizing love. Others say 12 humps in the challah symbolizes the 12 tribes of Israel. Basically, challah means whatever you want it to mean, just like that [crappy] poetry you wrote in college.”

Throw in a dead-on parody of “Reefer Madness,” titled “Kippur Madness” and a bevy of eye-catching graphic pages and it’s obvious that Fogel and Wolfson are funny dudes. So why so insecure?

Between guffaws, there are irritants. Among them, they use their book to plug their play or highlight scenes. This gets old, fast. How fast? You remember those math problems from college calculus (or high school if you were a hotshot) where a ladder is resting against a wall? And you determine the speed of the ladder as it slips down the wall — yet, via a phenomena known as “the ladder paradox” the formula eventually yields a velocity exceeding the speed of light?

That’s how fast.

Still, the authors pack in more jokes here than Henny Youngman could fire off in two hours, even if some of these graphic pages could cause sensory overload. This is a book someone could enjoy in several sittings before bed, on the train, or, dare I say it, in the bathroom (where the section about Jewish foods and the resultant byproducts would be appropriate).

“Jewtopia” by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson (215 pages, Warner Books, $24.99).

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.