In a major work of scholarship that explores the funny side of some very serious business (and vice versa), Jeremy Dauber examines the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from biblical times to the age of Twitter. Organizing Jewish comedy into “seven strands”—including the satirical, the witty, and the vulgar—he traces the ways Jewish comedy has mirrored, and sometimes even shaped, the course of Jewish history. Dauber also explores the classic works of such masters of Jewish comedy as Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Philip Roth, Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, and Larry David, among many others.
Jeremy Dauber is the Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Columbia University. He is the author of several books on Jewish literature, including In the Demon’s Bedroom: Yiddish Literature and the Early Modern, Antonio’s Devils: Writers of the Jewish Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, and The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He lives in New York City.
Comedy is full of famously funny Jews, from Groucho Marx to Sarah Silverman, from Larry David to Jerry Seinfeld. This smart and funny book includes tales from many of these much-loved comics, and will appeal to their broad audience, while revealing the history, context and wider culture of Jewish joking.
The Jewish joke is as old as Abraham, and like the Jews themselves it has wandered over the world, learned countless new languages, worked with a range of different materials, been performed in front of some pretty hostile crowds, and yet still retained its own distinctive identity. So what is it that animates the Jewish joke? Why are Jews so often thought of as ‘funny’? And how old can a joke get?
The Jewish Joke is a brilliant—and laugh-out-loud funny—riff on about what marks Jewish jokes apart from other jokes, why they are important to Jewish identity and how they work. Ranging from self-deprecation to anti-Semitism, politics to sex, Devorah Baum looks at the history of Jewish joking and asks whether the Jewish joke has a future.
With jokes from Lena Dunham to Woody Allen, as well as Freud and Marx (Groucho, mostly), Baum balances serious research with light-hearted humor and provides fascinating insight into this well-known and much loved cultural phenomenon.
Wisse broadly traces modern Jewish humor around the world, teasing out its implications as she explores memorable and telling examples from German, Yiddish, English, Russian, and Hebrew. Among other topics, the book looks at how Jewish humor channeled Jewish learning and wordsmanship into new avenues of creativity, brought relief to liberal non-Jews in repressive societies, and enriched popular culture in the United States.
Even as it invites readers to consider the pleasures and profits of Jewish humor, the book asks difficult but fascinating questions: Can the excess and extreme self-ridicule of Jewish humor go too far and backfire in the process? And is "leave 'em laughing" the wisest motto for a people that others have intended to sweep off the stage of history?
"An absolute must-read" – Shondaland
“[Rabbit] tells how it went down with brutal honesty and outrageous humor” – New York Times
They called her Rabbit.
Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) was born and raised in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic. One of five children, Pat watched as her mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At age seven, Pat was taught to roll drunks for money. At twelve, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior. By thirteen, she was pregnant. By fifteen, Pat was a mother of two.
Alone at sixteen, Pat was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive. Rabbit is an unflinching memoir of cinematic scope and unexpected humor. With wisdom and humor, Pat gives us a rare glimpse of what it’s really like to be a black mom in America.