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Humor

Joan Rivers: "Rediscovered at 76"

There is a lovely piece about Joan Rivers in New York Magazine to mark the premiere of her biographical documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Jonathan Van Meter notes that Joan Rivers has been "rediscovered at age 76," despite the fact that she has been in our hearts and minds all along.

Topics: Comedy

The "real" Sarah Silverman

Last Friday I went to a sold-out book reading in Coolidge Corner. Sarah Silverman, probably the most (in)famous Jewish woman comedian today, was reading from her new memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. Since she is without a doubt a "Jewess with attitude," I thought it was important that I be there.

Topics: Comedy, Memoirs

In Linda Richman's Footsteps: 'Ronna and Beverly'

As much as I love the whole Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Judd Aptaow schlemiel genre I always shudder a bit when finding out, again and again, that their co-star is a semi-serious perky blond. (For the most recent example, see the new movie “She’s Out of My League”, where the real-life half Jew Jay Baruchel pursues yet another, fair-haired and -eyed interest.) Why can’t the woman ever be funny — and not just spunky? Occasionally, a brunette? And, just once, Jewish?

Topics: Comedy

Saying goodbye to Jean Carroll

Legendary comedian Jean Carroll passed away on New Year's Day at the age of 98.  A pioneering stand up comedian, Jean Carroll was a regular headliner in nightclubs and theaters in the '40s and '50s.  She was featured on the Ed Sullivan Show, and she even had her own sitcom on ABC in the 1953-1954 season.

Topics: Comedy

What "Making Trouble" means to me

If you follow JWA on Twitter or Facebook, it should be pretty obvious that we think Making Trouble, the film about six trailblazing Jewish women entertainers, makes a great Hanukkah present for the whole family.  Normally, the idea of pushing a "product" makes me queasy.  Afterall, I chose to work for a non-profit, not an advertising firm!  So I feel that I owe the JWA audience a real and honest explanation for why I think Making Trouble is something you should own.

Topics: Comedy, Film

Rethinking the question: "Why are there so few women in comedy?"

In a recent interview with Lisa Leingang in the New York Times, Melena Ryzik asks the question: "Why are there so few women in comedy?" To answer it, you have to approach it the way Bill Clinton did during the Monica Lewinsky period. We have to deconstruct the terms.

Topics: Comedy

The Holocaust: Something to laugh about?

The most recent issue of Heeb Magazine is causing quite a stir.  The issue features Roseanne Barr wearing an apron and a Hitler mustache, pulling a tray of “burnt Jew cookies” out of an oven.  The Heeb publisher posted an article explaining the editorial choice, which discusses a cultural shift towards acceptance of “Holocaust humor.”  Heeb argues that old taboos are relaxing. Jews are beginning to embrace the Holocaust in a new way - as something to laugh about. Is this true? Has the Holocaust really become funny?

Molly Picon: A Celebrity for the Ages

Years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis on Yiddish film, I attempted conversation about the subject at cocktail parties (well, at that point they weren’t yet cocktail parties, but there were definitely M&Ms) –

“Yiddish? Film? What? Like Yentl?”

No. Not like Yentl. They’re in Yiddish! And most of them were originally Yiddish theater productions. Molly Picon? ... No?... Nobody?... Nevermind. Is it hot in here? Pass the M&Ms.

Comedy, Cultural Memory & Legacy

In a recent session of my comedy class for Jewish high schoolers, I instructed the students to re-do a scene in the style of the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." I might as well have said "gee willakers" and put on my newsies cap.

Joan Rivers as Yoda

I've always had a soft spot for Joan Rivers. Once, as a student at Barnard, (BC '98), Rivers's Alma Mater, I was highlighted by a Barnard publication for my work as a comedian, and was noted to be "the next Joan Rivers." Erroneously, this allowed me to believe that we were secret best friends, and that if ever I was to meet Joan -I would say "Hello, I am the next You; we are best friends, yes?"  Also erroneous is the claim itself - there is no "Next Joan Rivers" - she is irreplaceable  (nor do I come close).

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Humor." (Viewed on October 23, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog/humor>.

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