Introducing the first Jewish podcast taking back control of the narrative: “Jews control the media”. As a reaction to Nick Cannon and Reverend Farrakhan this past summer, Jake Silberman and Mo Mandel launched a comedy podcast to deal with the realities of antisemitism in the media. This comedy podcast is abrasive, cynical, and full of chutzpah, and bills itself as “a pro-Jewish podcast taking on antisemites, pop culture, and occasionally even other Jews, one joke at a time.”
The Jews Control the Media podcast uses the art of comedy to address all of the recent Jew-hatred in America, by making fun of it but NOT making light of it.
ChiTribe was so excited to interview hosts Jake Silberman and Mo Mandel to learn more about how they are using comedy to combat antisemitism and create representation for Jews of all backgrounds.
Meet Jake Silberman and Mo Mandel
Where are you from?
Jake: Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. My dad is from Oak Park right outside of Detroit. My mom was born and raised in Minneapolis. My brother and I were Minneapolis kids with strong Detroit connections. We had many family holidays in Hyde Park because my Uncle was a professor at the University of Chicago.
Mo: My parents and the entire family are from Queens originally. My parents were super hippies who moved to San Francisco during the summer of love. Scared of the atomic bomb (pretty Jewish!) they moved up to Mendocino County where they thought they would be safe. I was born in the same house my family lives now in Booneville, California. It is a converted logger cabin.
Where did you get your name Mo? (short for Mohahn not Moshe!?)
Mo: My parents thought it was Hebrew…but it is Hindu. My full name is Mohan. Before I was born, my dad looked through the new age baby name book at the bookstore, jotting down Hebrew names instead of buying the book. He decided on Mohan (not realizing it was Hindu not Hebrew).
At my bris, the Mohel asked my name and they told him “Mohan, it’s Hebrew!” He obviously responded, “No it is not.” They were decided to just go with Mohan… but I only found out about this later. They used to tell me I was named after Gandhi!
Where did you go to school?
Jake: I went to a small liberal arts college called the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Basically, I went to the woods and studied environmental studies. Now I do standup and hope to one day live in a van.
Mo: I studied at the University of California, Santa Barbra. Creative writing wasn’t a useless degree it turns out because I do make my living as a writer. Now I write comedies and action films!
What do you do for work?
Jake: I have been doing comedy for 7 years primarily in Portland so I am in the beginning stages of this career as I started at age 26. Until the Pandemic, I was a scriptwriter for a toy company that sold children’s stop motion animation toys to teach kids the skill. I worked on the stories for animations on their Youtube channel for four years.
Mo: After college, I knew I wanted to be a stand-up comedian and decided to move to San Francisco. At one point, I was working as a barista, bartender, and I worked at a Taco Shop all on the same street. In 2007, I won the Comedy Central competition called “Open Mic Fight” and moved to LA with a spot on the channel. Since then, I have been doing standup full time, screenwriting, and producing.
What did you do Jewish growing up and your connection to Judaism?
Jake: I was bar mitzvahed and confirmed. We went to the JCC in St. Louis Park, but it was tough to drag my brother and me to Hebrew school. My mother isn’t Jewish but my father is and it has always been very important to them to raise us with Judaism. For me, there is a whole fight between the religious side and cultural side (which we discuss on the podcast) and I identify with Judaism as a cultural and historical part of my identity.
Mo: I had a Bar Mitzvah with a Rabbi AND a Shaman in San Franscisco. I feel very connected to my Jewish culture. I think it is a great culture. But also because I grew up being made aware “you are not us, you are Jewish.” Every single friend and bully would just call me “JEW JEW JEW”. That was my reality. There was a time with standup when I stayed away from being “Jew-y”. Now, I feel like it is about embracing what being Jewish means, not just the stereotypes.
What do you do Jewish now?
Jake: This podcast is what I do Jewish now. I don’t really attend any type of Jewish religious service but of course, I love a good bagel.
Mo: This podcast. Also, I recently got married to a woman named Ashley who is very Jewish and having a Jewish wedding service was very important for her. Having a Jewish service during COVID is challenging especially because our rabbi told us we could not have a relative sign our Ketubah as a witness.
I have Jewish friends, but they were all too neurotic to get a flight and come to the wedding. I almost posted on Craigslist to find a Jewish person to come to my wedding to sign our ketubah. Luckily, it all worked out.
MAZAL TOV MO & ASHLEY!
What do you do for fun?
Jake: Has anybody had fun in a year? I watch depressing documentaries about America and I like to hike and play basketball. Before the Pandemic, comedy was really my entire life.
Mo: Comedy is fun for me and has been my entire life for years, going out 7 nights a week for spots and open mics. At this point in my life, I don’t enjoy doing anything other than writing or performing stand-up comedy and watching TV with my wife.
Antisemitism is alive and well in Comedy Clubs of America
Touring the country is where real antisemitism happens for standup comedians throughout America. Mo and Jake discuss when heckling crosses the line and becomes antisemitism. The reality remains, even the least observant standup comedians that happen to be Jewish will be always be labeled as “Jew”.
What is the craziest antisemitic experience you have had performing?
Jake: I had this joke that I used to do which was based on a real-life experience and I was heckled for discussing nazis because apparently “they aren’t real”. I used to take the bus every day to work through a poorer suburb in Portland. On the bus, I always saw this lady who had a prominent swastika tattoo on her forearm with a huge sword behind it, dripping with blood. Naturally, I had a joke where I just ragging on the Nazi lady.
One night, I started the joke and this lady in the front row just screamed out “Nazis aren’t real”. What do you even say to that…?
Was that antisemitism or just a drunk gal running her mouth? But, I was the only comic that she heckled at night and I was also the only Jewish guy telling a Nazi story.
Mo: I have had all kinds of crazy antisemitic experiences. One time I began my set in Cleveland with “So I’m Jewish” and the woman in the front row reacted with an “AWWW.”As if my being Jewish had just really bummed her out. It was like “Aww, I thought we got them all.” The rest of the crowd was completely unbothered and laughed with her, so I had to just continue with my set. Watch Mo retell this story on stage>>
Mo: Part of my antisemitic heckling experiences includes the token guy who just yells “bagel” or “JEWS” throughout my set. Afterward, they always come up to me and say something like “my mechanic works with a guy who is Jewish. Did you have a Bar Mitzvah”. The damage is already done. When traveling throughout the states, you learn which towns you can lean into the Jewish and where you have to lean back.
What other podcasts are you involved with and what are they about?
Jake: All the podcasts I am a part of began during the Pandemic because Standup was nonexistent. For me, this was the only real outlet for me with nothing going on. Zoom shows were not fun, and I would rather riff with my buddies for three hours a week to keep my comedy sharp. It is a lot but now I host three podcasts and I love it.
Back of the Room is a general comedy podcast with comedians Jake Silberman, Dylan Jenkins, and Max Fortune.
What is Stuff? hosted by Hunter Donaldson and Jake Silberman. “The premise is to take an article we’re interested in and talk about it for about 10 minutes, and the rest is just comedians having fun.”
Jews Control the Mediaas described on Spotify: Jewish comedians Mo Mandel and Jake Silberman use their Jewish money and Hebrew influence to control the media, taking on antisemites, pop culture, and occasionally even Jews themselves, one joke at a time.
Mo: In addition to Jews Control the Media, I also host The Full Release podcast with my wife Ashley. We have been recording since we met, basically. Since she is a Urologist and I am a comedian, it seemed like a natural fit! It is a love-line-like podcast with a female urologist and her comedian husband who says funny and mostly dumb things. We take calls and emails and it is a great time.
Jews Control the Media: The Podcast
Why now? Why is the name Jews Control the Media?
Nick Cannon was only part of the innumerable antisemitic remarks and incidents this past summer. As comedians and as Jews, Mo and Jake did not feel society was taking the magnitude of this discrimination seriously. They decided to be a new voice for Jews calling these incidents out, even when it is dark as antisemitism often is. But Jews love dark humor.
For these hosts, the name is EVERYTHING. Reclaiming the title “Jews Control the Media” is provocative and also hilarious.
Mo: I think the darkest things can also be the funniest and so we started out really just trying to clown anti-Semites. Actually making fun of their comments and challenging them, while also laughing at the ridiculousness. Once we really started finding our voice, we realized we have a fun Jew-y perspective that allows us to shine a light on different aspects of the world. Jews Control the Media Podcast, at its core, was in response to wanting to stand up for ourselves.
Jake: The name and the podcast are a combination of “Go F^^& Yourself” to the antisemites but also checking ourselves as Jews. I prefer our vibe because I feel other Jewish podcasts take themselves so seriously.
Mo: The best description of Stand up comedy I have ever heard is “we are the people who say ‘hey society! wait let’s take another look at this.’” That is what we are doing now.
What audience do you hope to reach?
Mo: This podcast is for Jews looking for a Jewish perspective that doesn’t exist in the mainstream Jewish media. Jake and I, just like a lot of Jews and most people of any religion, aren’t very religious.
Like many Jews, Jake and I share a cynical, Jewish mind. I believe there is a shared Jewish analytical, mental perspective that exists in Jewish humor and you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it – as seen through all of the successful sitcoms. Jew or not, people who enjoy this perspective will enjoy our podcast.
Jake: And of course, the antisemitic trolls on YouTube. The anti-Semites that already believe the premise “Jews Control the Media” are the trolls and yet a captivated audience of this podcast.
Throughout the episodes, Jake and Mo are talking to comedians from a lot of places. Midwest Jews are being represented in ways that resonate for the first time. This Podcast is geared for the Jewish listener looking for representation.
Episode 12 with Mike Young, Comedian and Director “JEWISH GANGSTER”
Mike Young – Comedian and director originally from Detroit, shares an unbelievable Jewish perspective about growing up near 8 mile and his father’s scrap metal business. Check out the full ChiTribe article about this Midwest episode! Was your family involved in the scrap metal industry? How about the Jewish Mafia…You have to hear this story!
Episode 7 with Former Jewish Person of the Week Jared Freid “JEW-ING WITH J-TRAIN”
Jared Freid – From the Boston area originally, now living in NYC, with deep ties to Detroit. ChiTribe loves Jared fried.
Upcoming Episodes to Look out For
Mark Normand – This week’s episode: a non Jew very excited about the Tribe!
Necro – A Jewish rapper from Brooklyn who has a rap song called “Tough Jew”. He talks about not feeling like a normal “coastie” Jew. “Sometimes I don’t know why I bring it out [his Judaism], because Jews do not recognize me, but anti-Semites throw a lot of hate”. Tune in for his story about growing up in Brooklyn in a mostly black housing project.
Jake: Shout out to Reverend Farrakhan…for getting us started. Andmy family.
Mo: Shout out to all the Jewish people of our generation who don’t feel like they really have a voice and don’t really feel like they are being represented. Shout out to my wife for supporting me financially so I can make this Podcast!
COMPLETE THE PHRASE…
Jake: When the Tribe Gathers… eventually they’ll be drinking
Mo: When the Tribe Gathers … a scarier Tribe gathers around them.