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Humor

Barbra Streisand in What's Up, Doc?

Unlearning Silence in What’s Up, Doc?

For all that I am the outspoken, proud nerd in my school life, for all that I try to speak up for my views and ask questions in academic settings, for all that I am confidently liberal in conservative settings— I am distinctly self-conscious about all of it. 

Topics: Feminism, Comedy, Film
A Sampling of Netflix's Stand-up Comedy Offerings

Netflix and No-Chill?

I am the funniest person I know. Out of all of the aspects of my identity, my sense of humor is probably my favorite. I say my jokes loudly; I laugh at the things I say even if nobody else does. Shari Short asserts in her article, "Jewish Funny", that humor is a common ground for Jews. Self-deprecation and sprinklings of Yiddish go a long way when identifying fellow members of the Tribe by jokes alone. 

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

The Broads are Back

That’s right. The much anticipated third season of Broad City is finally here! YAS KWEEN! After a hiatus which ardent fans like myself would classify as an eternity, Abbi and Ilana have at long last returned with their shenanigans, their pot, their feminism, and, as we learn from season three’s opening sequence, their multi-faceted bathroom use.  

Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, November 6, 1967

Remembering Anne Meara: Jewish Mother By Choice

Anne Meara was a Jewess with an attitude. She was born in Brooklyn on September 20, 1929, raised as a Catholic, and died as a Jew in Manhattan on May 23, 2015. Meara studied drama and although she never intended to be a comedian, that’s how she will be remembered by most audiences. What made Meara truly unique was that she exuded her Irish ethnicity while simultaneously taking on the mantle of Jewish wife and mother.

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. 

Topics: Comedy, Film, Theater

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Humor." (Viewed on March 25, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/humor>.

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