Hey! Hey! It’s Issi!

October 13, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Veteran Jewish entertainer Issi Dye has defied the backlash against the black-faced physicians in the Hey Hey It’s Saturday show by performing his business as usual Al Jolson show at the weekend…

Issi Dye in black-face

Issi Dye in black-face

Donning the massive amount of make-up needed to impersonate the legendary Jewish star of the 1920s, Dye performed his 1000th show in front of 350 fans at the Astor Picture Theatre in Melbourne. He told J-Wire: “There was not a single word of complaint…never has been. The audiences in Australia would demand I use the Jolson black face. They love it.”

The physicians who masqueraded as the Jackson Five in a return performance of the highly popular Channel 9 TV show created an outcry around the world as audiences questioned the political correctness of mimicking the famous African American singing group. Four were black-faced and the fifth, impersonating the recently deceased Michael Jackson, retained his Caucasian colouring.

Dye has performed his act throughout Australia for over ten years often appearing in Sydney’s giant league clubs. He added: “To be honest, it would be easier for me not to have to use the black face make-up as it takes forever to put on.”

After the show, the audience at the Astor was treated to a screening of “The Jazz Singer”, the 1927 movie featuring Al Jolson which heralded the advent of talking movies and spelled the death of the silent era. In the movie, Jolson performs his timeless favourites in black-face.

But Dye would still like his show to receive international approval. He said: “The next performance will be on October 26 at Caulfield Racecourse. I would dearly love to have Harry Connick Jnr come and judge my performance.”  Connick Jnr had been one of the judges on the Hey Hey show and had made it abundantly clear that in his view Caucasian men posing as American Africans is a no go area.

Questioned about taking his Jolson show overseas, Dye replied: “I am not so sure it would go down well in places like London. They wouldn’t like blackface.”


2 Responses to “Hey! Hey! It’s Issi!”
  1. Roy Wyss says:

    I have no problems with any one dressing the part that yhey are paying. Issi doesit so well nobody could take offence. Next you will be banning clowns because they use make up inthe same way.so please belt up about political correctness, whichin my opinion isjust a made up wordtogive ourpolies a word. To describe what is known as racism.

  2. michael rose says:

    As an English supporter of Al Jolson for over twenty five years I firmly believe that it was never Jolson’s intention whether singing about April Showers or his dear old Mammy back home in Alabamy to ridicule black people. Jolson, himself a minority, did more to highlight the plight of the black American in the 1920’s than anyone else in his time. I feel it is abundantly unfair to judge someone by standards that have been met more than fifty years after that person’s death. Here in England there is still a demand, through the British Jolson Society, for Jolson impersonators to black up and I for one say good luck to Issi Dye.

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