The Jewish Joke: A Short History? with Punchlines by Devorah Baum
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.
Year first published: 2018