Marks comedy family ties with Limmud-Oz

June 3, 2015 by Paula Towers
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When you meet with three members of a family with the last name Marks, all blessed with a free-flowing humorous streak, you can’t help but wonder, what’s in a name?

“The Marks name seems to be associated with funny people?” I venture.

Rodney Marks

Rodney Marks

“What – Karl?!” responds Rodney, the professional comedian. This exchange sets the tone of the interview which bounces from witticism to sarcasm, peppered with humorous heckling by Rodney’s co-writer and son Benjamin as well as funny asides and interesting observations by another son, film-maker Joshua.

These three have shared an office for many years at Fox Studios where they bounce ideas off each other. They also feature at the upcoming Festival of Jewish Ideas, Limmud-Oz where their different talents will be showcased.
A Limmud-oz veteran, Rodney is involved this time as both a presenter and a performer. He’s on the affirmative team of the comedy debate that opens the festival on Saturday June 6, speaking to the topic Our Community is Perfect.

“It’s an ironic, deliberately funny topic,” Rodney observes. “And it’s a good idea to have a comedy debate to kick off the whole festival.” As well as three highly qualified (in terms of comedic skills) debaters on each side, there is a moderator who Rodney knows. “Tami Sussmann is a terrific comedienne and adjudicator.”
Having comedy acts at a Jewish event is a natural fit, Rodney believes. “I think Jews are generally funny; we give each other permission to be so.”

On Sunday he’s doing a piece called Rodney Marks Time. “This is about the way we all procrastinate – in other words, that’s why it’s on at 10:15pm!” he quips.

Rodney Marks

Joshua Marks

Though he’s presented at previous Limmuds and been a comedian for around 25 years, this is the first time Rodney has actually performed at Limmud Oz. “Due to popular demand, he’s not had a performance,” heckles Ben who, except when he is heckling, prefers to remain in the background. They often co-write and the last laugh in this regard will be – quite literally – on/by him, as Rodney advises that by the time that he performs, Ben will have written half of the material for Rodney’s gig.

The festival is fortunate enough to be able to feature at least one Marks each day – for on Monday afternoon at 5:15pm Joshua is presenting his film “My Grandparents” and discussing its process. This short documentary will be attended by his two surviving grandparents, who will also contribute by offering their insights as subjects. Like his father, Joshua has had previous involvement with Limmud-Oz, some of which has been career enhancing. In 2009 he assisted in a quirky Limmud-Oz promo video created by puppeteer Gary Friedman, while in following Limmuds, Joshua attended as a volunteer, then met up with filmmaker Marc Radomsky who was a Limmud-Oz presenter.

A job came up and Marc put Joshua forward. “I worked with him for several months,” Joshua says. The job was a three-part documentary for the ABC called Kids on Speed. The observational documentary style and “unfolding stories” interests Joshua most and he has worked on documentaries covering family histories – including subjects at the Montefiore Home and Moriah College – as well as on corporate videos to promote businesses. He is also helping prepare a video for the Limmud-Oz opening ceremony on Saturday night.

At this year’s Limmud-Oz, mark my words, the Marks are some of the many entertaining and interesting presenters being featured.

To view the full program and for more info, go to:

Volunteers are offered 50% discount on tickets. Join the conversation at #LimmudFever

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