Up All Night with the Jewish Elvis – Kveller
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Up All Night with the Jewish Elvis

I’m not the only one who loves the TV show “Up All Night,” right? Starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as, basically, more successful and with-it versions of me and my husband, and probably yours, too?

Oh, cut it out. Don’t pretend you don’t own a TV. We’re all hanging around this site hoping Blossom will actually talk to us. We’re sad little pop-culture addicts, and that’s okay.

But just in case you haven’t watched the show… it’s hilarious. The first episode featured a one-upping argument between the main characters, in which each one claimed to have been up with the baby more, and later, and longer. It was so familiar and true, it made me cringe with recognition (and flushed with a grateful feeling of not being alone in this).

The most recent episode, however, was not only hilarious, but also Good For The Jews, because it lovingly referenced Jewish children’s author Ezra Jack Keats, the subject of a recent much-loved, much buzzed-about retrospective at the Jewish Museum. Though Keats died in 1983, a character on the show stood in for a Keats-like children’s book author, with the very first scene of the show displaying a decidedly Whistle-for-Willie-like illustration.

It gets better. The Keats-doppelganger is played by Henry Winkler, also known as Fonzie–the guy who really was the Jewish Elvis (sorry, Barbra) in the 70s. And his on-screen daughter is Ava, an Oprah-like talk-show host who’s a full-on daddy’s girl–I can relate–and awaits his arrival with nervous excitement.

The inside joke here–yet another “ding!” for the pop-trivia obsessed–is that Ava is played by Maya Rudolph, whose mother was the gone-too-soon chanteuse Minnie Riperton, and whose father is the indeed-very-groovy music producer Richard Rudolph. So when she lovingly speaks of her dad as “the grooviest Jew since Neil Diamond first donned a rhinestone cape,” she could be speaking as Ava or as Maya–it’s true for both actress and character.

Of course, this being a sitcom, some things go wrong, but it’s eventually all right. And it’s not really about Ezra Jack Keats or Richard Rudolph, but about a father and daughter finding a way to connect as adults. It’s funny and it’s beautiful, like Maya Rudolph, and also like Keats’s books.

I like to think there’s a TV lounge in Heaven where Minnie Riperton and Ezra Jack Keats watched this episode while sharing a bag of Veggie Booty and laughing together when Ava says, “No, Daddy. You’re never jive.”

People, don’t ever tell me TV is bad. TV is our friend. Henry Winkler is our Elvis. And Maya Rudolph, well–she’s our Maya Rudolph.

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