Shimon Dzigan (Yiddish: שמעון דזשיגאן, Polish: Szymon Dżigan; born 1905 in Łódź - April 14, 1980 in Tel Aviv) was a Jewish comedian. His father was a soldier in the Russian military. After the outbreak of the first world war Dzigan was apprenticed to a tailor to help the family make ends meet.
Moyshe Broderzon was impressed by Dzigan's improvised parodies in 1927 and invited Dzigan to join the Ararat literary cabaret (“Klein Kunst Theater”) that he was founding in Łódź. Later he joined the “Ararat” Yiddish Theatre, and after it was closed teamed up with Israel Shumacher, to form the most famous Yiddish comic duo "Dzigan and Shumacher".
"(In fact, one of their most famous sketches, "Einstein Weinstein", plays a lot like "Who's on First."
"The performances of Dzigan and Shumacher typically opened with skits based on items from daily newspapers. Their humor was aimed at antisemites and government functionaries, but also at themselves and their public. Routines based on domestic life would follow. Dzigan’s persona was that of a hyperactive, happy beggar, endlessly complaining about life as he darted about the stage with his signature red handkerchief hanging from his pocket. The bespectacled Shumacher, in fundamental contrast, was phlegmatic and restrained, glossing his Jewish troubles with subtle gestures of the shoulders and hands."
When Germany invaded Poland, Dzigan and Shumacher fled to Soviet-occupied Białystok where they pulled their company back together and toured Minsk, Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Kharkov, and other Soviet localities.
Both were incarcerated in a Stalinist work camp and managed to escape and rebuild in Israel the brilliant artistic path they had forged in Europe and the USA. They performed thirty years on stage and countless performances across the globe. Their works were made into an historic Yiddish-language television program, broadcast in Israel in the 1970s.
After Shumacher died, Dzigan went on performing until his own death in 1980.
- Koyekh fun yidishn humor, Shimon Dzigan's autobiography
- "Shimon Dzigan". SaveTheMusic.com. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
- YIVO encyclopedia of European Jewry
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