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Humor

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

For Women in Comedy, A New Jewish Voice

Jewish women are having a moment. At the end of 2014, Flavorwire published an article entitled “2014 Was—Secretly—The Year of the Jewish Woman.” It profiled Jewish women who made news in culture in the past year: Abbi Glazer and Ilana Jacobson of the Comedy Central show Broad City, Jill Soloway, the writer of the groundbreaking show Transparent,  and Jenny Slate, the comedian who starred in the romantic comedy Obvious Child, among others. 

Joan Rivers, May 24, 2009

Joan Rivers and Jewish Comedy: A Remembrance

“I am not the ideal Jewish woman,” Joan Rivers admits in a comedy act filmed in the Jewish Women’s Archive film, Making Trouble. “I love to take [my audience] to the edge,” she says.  “I love to get them upset . . . And ruin their value system.” Known for her aggressiveness and her “unkosher” bawdy style, in critic Sarah Cohen’s words, Rivers (nee Joan Molinsky), Phi Beta Kappa Barnard graduate and daughter of a Brooklyn Jewish doctor, performed for over forty years. 

Shari Short

Jewish Funny

It turns out that “Jewish Funny” has become evidence-based. Results from the recent Pew Study “Portrait of Jewish Americans,” four in 10 of the 5.3 million religious and cultural Jews surveyed consider a sense of humor essential to Jewish identity. Having a sense of humor is part of our communications and value system. It’s as if we have a framework for which we see the world that lets us find and enjoy the irony of life’s complications. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the words “irony” and “oy” both have an “o” and a “y”.

Topics: Comedy
Estelle Getty at the 41st Emmy Awards, September 17, 1989

Estelle Getty: Golden Girl

Do I admire her because she's been described as "... evasive about her height, acknowledging only that she was under 5 feet and under 100 pounds?" Well, all the more points to Estelle Getty for being an itsy-bitsy powerhouse, but mostly I admire her for being a genuinely funny, talented woman, who never gave up on her greatest ambitions. In an industry where youth and beauty are often valued far above maturity and wit, Estelle turned the tables. She found success in her later years, cracked wise about it the whole time, and taught young women like myself a few things along the way.

Dinah Shore at the Miami Book Fair International, 1990

Moments in History: Jewish Entertainers of Television

Earlier this month we promised more from our new series Moments In History, which commemorates game changing Jewish women in entertainment.  Our last entry took a look at women on the silver screen—today we’ll explore memorable moments from the lives of four very different Jewish stars of the smaller screen.

Wendy Wasserstein

Making Trouble: Clips from the Cutting Room Floor

While hard at work here at the Archive, I stumbled upon some interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor during production of our prizewinning documentary “Making Trouble”. Take a look at a few clips that feature fabulous Jewish women in entertainment talking about fabulous Jewish women in entertainment.

See Tovah Feldshuh speak about the ahead of her time Sophie TuckerAlex Borstein explore Gilda Radner's beauty,  Adrienne Cooper's take on Molly Picon gender roles, and Wendy Wasserstein's thoughts Jewish entertainers on and off the stage. 

Jackie Hoffman, September 19, 2011

Jackie Hoffman Doesn't Care If You Find The Feminist Message

Throughout March, Baruch College Performing Arts Center has been presenting a series of Jewish comediennes in partnership with the Jewish Women’s Arch

Microphone

Lauren Interviews Lauren

Singer-songwriter-humorist Lauren Mayer reflects on Hanukkah, Christmas, family, growing up a Jew in Orange County and how all this informs her own, artistic process. May you enjoy this in depth interview conducted by… herself.

What inspired you to write “Latkes, Shmatkes”?

Two years ago NPR did a program on Christmas music, and their expert was talking about how secular songs, like “Frosty The Snowman,” became classics, and then he said, “Some songs should never become classics, like this one”— and used an old recording of mine as an example. It was a novelty song I’d written and recorded years ago, “The Fruitcake That Ate New Jersey,” and when I wrote in to ask how they found it, they ended up interviewing me. I joked that now I was part of the great tradition of Jewish songwriters who create Christmas music, and I really should do a Chanukah album. Once I said it, I realized it could be a fun idea.

"We Killed," by Yael Kohen

"Have you ever considered the girl to be the somebody?"

Yael Kohen’s new book, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy, has many revealing tales about how change happens. But one stands out for me: in 1966, the actress Marlo Thomas approached the head of ABC-TV programming with a novel idea. She wanted “to play the person with the problem, not the person who assisted the person with the problem.” She recalled:

I didn’t want to be the wife of somebody, or the secretary of somebody, or the daughter of somebody…”Have you ever considered the girl to be the somebody?” And he said, “Would anybody watch a show like that?” I said, “I think they would.” And so I gave him a copy of The Feminine Mystique, and he read it and kind of became convinced.

Joan Rivers, New York City, 2010

Joan Rivers: a woman filled with hate or humanity?

Joan Rivers: a woman of chutzpadik and chilarity. We either love her, or hate her. She’s either the talk of the town, or fades into red carpet oblivion . . . only to be resurrected again.

Topics: Comedy, Writing

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Humor." (Viewed on August 14, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog/humor>.

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