Jewschool Goes To Howl! — Day 3

The Big Jewish Quiz Thing – Back on the Roof
by David Kelsey
I intended to attend the Big Jewish Quiz Show. But I didn’t intend on being in the Big Quiz Show.
Josh Neuman, the Editor of Heeb, called me at 2 pm to tell me he couldn’t make it, and I would be taking his place. You try telling your boss that you already have plans — when he already knows your plans were to be with him.
The kicker was, my good friend Steven I. Weiss of the Canonist was going to be on the panel as well. I agreed, providing I wouldn’t be on his team. I’m not a baby — but I am petty and bitter.
There were approximately 85 audience members not including staff and panelists. Noah Tarnow hosted the event. I was on Fleishik, Weiss was on Milchik. I thought Weiss would provide the majority of the answers requiring academic and religous knowledge for team Milchik.
I thought wrong. Team Fleishik quickly took a masive lead. On the Yiddish spelling bee, each team had to suggest the most favorable spelling of Yiddish words as determined by Leo Rosten’s ranking of preference. Fleishik took a solid eight out of a possible ten points. I expected a formidable opponent and a fierce fight — at least in this round — from the man who had eloquently and affectionately dismissed me a “jackass, moron, idiot, intellectually impaired” and ”stupid.” This guy was frothing at the mouth to embarrass Heeb at this event with his self assessed superior knowledge of all things Jewish. But instead I felt like a schochet in the slaughter house, with Weiss as my designated behaima. What is the Rosten preferred spelling for shmendrik? To be fair, I was at the Forward longer than Weiss. Much longer in fact (as he now knows), and you just learn a little Yiddish over time through osmosis there.
Things were so bad, the judges started giving bogus points to Milchik, in the name that Jewish rock song and roller section, on a song none of us knew, Weiss shouted “Avraham Fried! Just One Shabbos!” Tarnow gave it to him, even though it wasn’t the song playing, “because it was funny.” What was funny is that “Just One Shabbos” is the magnum opus of Mordechai Ben David, not Fried. But for me, these irregularities favoring Milchik were not funny at all. I was having a grudge match; the host was running Color War. I counted three points in all given to “the underdog” team. Even in a quiz show, we Jews can’t get away from our victimology.
Milchik started gaining some legitimate ground however, when we got to “Jewish or Gay.” Jesse Oxfeld, the co-editor of Gawker, began to flex mightily. He is king of gossip, and he showed his stuff, though Susannah Perlman — ringleader of Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad — made him work for it.
We were still ahead 32½ to 20½, having climbed there one (sometimes a half) point at a time (with no freebies for us), when the final joke section arrived, this one subject to audience approval. It was itself divided into three separate rounds, one player each pitted against one from the opposing team, each round worth five — not one — points, each responsible to tell a funnier Jewish joke than the other. I wanted to go against Weiss, but when the second round was given to us, I elected to go, thinking he would take my obvious challenge. Instead he sent Rachel Kramer Bussel. I couldn’t believe he declined. What a sissy.
To give credit where do, Milchik won all three rounds of the jokes (and therefore the game) and all of them did a good job on this last critical section. Even Weiss.
Tonight is Kosher ChiXXX, which is a damn good thing.
I’m ready for some T & A.
[Editor’s Note] I love Steven I. Weiss, but I also love punching Steven I. Weiss’ buttons. While he and David may have some, er, tensions, that in no way reflects my (and thereby by extension Jewschool’s) feelings towards him. I think he’s one of the best Jewish journalists out there and I’m thankful for the three years of drama — and freelance work — he’s provided me with. 🙂
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