Chanukah must be his favorite holiday. It was the inspiration for his hit song, "The Chanukah Song," and his hit animated movie, Eight Crazy Nights.
Aside from his Chanukah one, his most Jewish movie was You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Naturally, we made it another one of our Movies of the Month! Adam plays an agent in the Mossad, the Israeli version of the CIA, who fakes his own death so he can start a new life in New York. With him in it are Henry Winkler and Jewish funnyman Shelley Berman. Oh, and guess where he went to make a movie about an Israeli agent? Israel!
Like many stars, he started on Saturday Night Live. He first starred in movies like Little Nicky, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison (those last two give us the name of Adam's production company, Happy Madison), The Waterboy, and Mr. Deeds that were, well, kinda gross. He follows that, um tradition, now with movies like Jack and Jill (he plays both twins!)... and That's My Boy, in which he's Andy Samberg's long-lost dad, who Andy wishes would have stayed lost!
He was also in Anger Management with Jack Nicholson... and in Grown Ups, with a lot of funny actors from TV sitcoms and SNL, about families who vacation together in the woods. In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, two single guys pretend to be married to save money. And Click is about a guy with a device that really puts the "control" in "remote control"!
For a silly comic, Adam is also in a lot of romantic comedies. He's in three movies with Drew Barrymore, 50 First Dates (one of our Movies of the Month!), The Wedding Singer and Duplex. Adam's new rom-com is with Jennifer Aniston and Rachel Dratch, and it's called Just Go With It. In it, Adam tells a whopper of a lie to get someone to fall in love with him. Let's hope her favorite song is "I Love the Way You Lie"!
One thing we love about Adam is that he is always doing movies for kids. He gets to monkey around in Zookeeper because he plays the monkey; this is another talking-live-animal movie like Dr. Dolittle and Babe. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle ... Adam turns monkeyshines into monkey business! (OK, we're done.) Click to see who plays the bear and the elephant!
Another one of Adam's family movies (not the Addams Family movies!) is Bedtime Stories, about a guy whose bedtime stories to his daughter start to happen to him! Try: "Once upon a time, I won the lottery!" Adam and Andy Samberg are also in the spooky-silly toon Hotel Transylvania. Adam plays Dracula, and Andy plays a guy who falls in love with his daughter. Hey, some some guys like the Goth look!
While Adam never does a movie without some laughs, he also has some movies that are closer to drama. He's in the hit Spanglish, about how immigration issues affect an American family once they get personal. He'll be in a film about the great singer Frank Sinatra; Adam will play a Rat Pack member (see this Bonus), a Jewish comic named named Joey Bishop (Scarlett Johansson may play Marilyn Monroe, too!). Bishop isn't a very Jewish name, but the guy's real last name was Gottlieb!
Adam's recent mostly-serious one we liked, Funny People, has Adam as a stand-up comic who learns he is very sick and is going to die soon. So he takes on a student of sorts to pass on his knowledge of comedy. Judd Apatow directed it, so of course Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are in it, as is Jason Schwartzman.
Adam's movie The Longest Yard is a remake about a jailed quarterback who gets his fellow inmates to be his teammates… in a game against the guards! Adam plays the Burt Reynolds role. Ask your dad what he thinks of that! But we think he most serious one is Punch Drunk Love, which was a serious movie about the destructive power of pent-up anger. Some consider this Adam's all-time best work!
Can you guess which Jewish star is in almost ALL of Adam's movies? Hint: They were on Saturday Night Live together. OK… here's the answer!
Oh, and Adam had a number of hit comedy albums, including They're All Gonna Laugh at You. And they do!
Adam went to Hebrew school, and only four years after his bar mitzvah, he began doing stand-up comedy. He ended up hosting an MTV game show and showing up on The Cosby Show.
Adam's other interests include the Yankees, Van Halen, and pro wrestling. Adam's recent wedding was so Jewish is pet bulldog, Meatball, wore a kipah! We guess he's a kosher Meatball.
Recently, Adam did a major mitzvah. He gave some Israeli kids some presents, and it wasn't even Chanukah! He donated 400 Playstations to kids who had been hiding in bomb shelters from missile attacks during the 2006 battle between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists. Adam said he did it to "bring happiness to their hearts." What a mensch!
Shelley Berman, who is in Adam's Zohan movie, is a very impressive comedian. We first mentioned him in our very first Movie of the Month, Meet the Fockers!
He, and two other Jewish actors, Elaine May and Mike Nichols (who would later have huge success as a director) founded The Compass Players... which became the world-famous improv troupe based here in Chicago: Second City! Shelley would go on to win the first-ever Grammy and gold album for spoken-word performance, which means no singing, just talking.
While Shelley's longest-runing TV gigs have been in the lawyer shows LA Law and Boston Legal-- and now Curb Your Enthusiasm (he's Larry David's Dad)-- he's been in TV and movies since 1955! Shelley's resume is like the history of TV: The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Bewitched, Mary Tyler Moore, CHiPs, Knight Rider (where David Hasselhoff became a star), St. Elsewhere, Night Court, MacGyver, Friends, Walker, Texas Ranger, Lizzie McGuire, Grey's Anatomy, and Entourage.
Shelley was born in Chicago, served in the Navy, then studied acting here at the Goodman Theater. He then travelled as an actor, but also worked as a cab driver, store manager, and even a dance instructor before writing for the pioneering late-night TV show hosted by Steve Allen (It's still on the air! Maybe you've heard of it... it's called The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno is now its 4th host!).
Shelley returned to Chicago to join Compass, where he developed both funny and serious routines. When he saw his fellow Jewish comic Mort Sahl doing stand-up comedy without jokes, just commentary on the news Shelley tried it with his improv routines. (Sorry, Jon, it's not a new idea!)
It worked! He started cutting hit comedy albums and touring nationally. Now instead of writing for them, he was a guest on the talk shows! He has since been on Broadway and even teaches comedy writing in college. When he’s not in a hot sitcom or movie, Shelley headlines in Las Vegas, still doing stand up ... or doing work for a charity.
Finally, Shelley is starting to be in some major movies. Like we said, he was in Meet the Fockers, and The Holiday with Jack Black. Next, he's in Adam's movie and the animation about the Native American Legend of Secret Pass, with David Cross.