Quality Balls: The David Steinberg Story

If you’ve never heard of comedian and director David Steinberg—and even if you have—you’ll be astonished at the scope of his career captured in this very funny biopic. It’s hard to believe that the same man performed with Groucho Marx, made the most Tonight Show appearances of any comedian other than Bob Hope, appeared on Nixon’s notorious “enemies list” and directed episodes of TV series like Seinfeld, Friends and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But Steinberg did all that and more. Born the son of a Russian Jewish rabbi in Winnipeg, he discovered a love of performing as the family ham and inherited a rabbinical knack for storytelling. In the 1950s at age 16, he left home to study at a yeshiva in Chicago where he came across the improvisational troupe Second City and quickly became a regular performer. There he developed his legendary sermons, comic monologues in the persona of a hapless reformed rabbi. Radical for the time, they dared to poke fun at God. (One sermon in 1968 contributed to the demise of the Smothers Brothers show.) But scandal never slowed the affable Steinberg, who genially recounts his adventures between clips and interviews with comedians he’s inspired, like Jerry Seinfeld. You’ll never think of Moses and the Burning Bush the same way again.
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