Al Jarreau as “The Jazz Singer” (SCTV)

Among my favorite moments from Al Jarreau (who was born in Milwaukee and passed away yesterday) is this parody of Neil Diamond’s 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer.

You know it’s going to be great the moment you see Sid Dithers (Eugene Levy) playing the father as a glorious soul-singer mashup of Lawrence Olivier’s Jewish cantor father, complete with ginormous glasses and thick accent, and Stevie Wonder’s braid/dreadlocks and wardrobe.

The film opens (it’s the “Movie of the Week” on SCTV) with Jarreau in the studio with his father, singing his big hit at the time, “We’re in This Love Together.” Dad loves his son’s work and has big plans for his career, so when Yussel (Jarreau) says he has to leave for shul (Yiddish for synagogue), an argument ensues:

Wait a minute, Pop. How many times do I have to tell you? We’ve been through this so many times. I don’t want to be a soul singer. I want to be a cantor. Why do you think I’ve had my head buried in the Torah all these years? Ah, man, it’s something that I’ve got to do. Don’t you understand?

If you’ve seen the Neil Diamond version of the movie (and by the way, wasn’t it was fun seeing him on the Grammys last night and hearing his still-strong, distinctive voice?), then you’ll get the jokes. In case you haven’t, at least here’s the trailer to give you an idea.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Life, Milwaukee, Movies and film, News, Popular culture, Television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Al Jarreau as “The Jazz Singer” (SCTV)

  1. I’ve always liked both of these guys!!


  2. Sally Cissna says:

    Very interesting video. I’m going to have to watch the Jazz Singer again 🙂


  3. Kirk F Smith says:

    Fantastic article pointing out such a great cast from a great TV show, SCTV, a talented singer, Al Jarreau, great writing (yours and SCTV’s), and the great Neil Diamond! I remember seeing that episode when it aired in 1981. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

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