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Humor

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).

Funny Fanny's Ziegfield Debut

Ah, Fanny Brice. The name alone evokes the image of a Jewish woman on-stage in glamorous costume, making fun of herself. Well, that and, of course, Barbra Streisand singing “People.” This week marks the 98th anniversary of Ms. Brice’s iconic debut in Ziegfield’s Follies as “Sadie Salome,” her breakthrough role.

Topics: Comedy, Film

"25 Questions for a Jewish Mother"

On Saturday night, I saw Judy Gold's one-woman show 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.

The title of her show was inspired by her quest, in partnership with playwright Kate Moira Ryan, to interview more than 50 Jewish mothers around the country, of different ages and Jewish backgrounds.

Topics: Mothers, Comedy

Making Trouble in Boston

Yesterday I finally got to see Making Trouble, the film produced by the Jewish Women's Archive, on the big screen. After sold-out shows at film festivals around the country (plus Jerusalem!), Making Trouble made its Boston premiere as part of the Boston Jewish Film Festival. Though I've seen the film several times, and in various versions, it was exciting to see it in a theater, with a big audience.

Topics: Comedy, Film

"Making Trouble" Makes a Splash!

What does a 4'11'' Yiddish theatre gender-bender have to do with a brassy woman in blackface? Making Trouble!

Check out the official website for Making Trouble, the new full-length documentary film about Jewish women comedians, produced by the Jewish Women's Archive.

Be sure to view the trailer, sign-up for our film newsletter, and tune in to film screenings in your neck of the woods. Happy laughing!

Topics: Comedy, Film

Women Comedians Making Trouble

Over the past few months, the media has been flooded with articles about women in comedy. Jewish women in particular have been in spotlight with Sarah Silverman’s sky-rocketing ratings, Comedian Cory Kahaney’s “The J.A.P. Show: Princesses of Comedy” and Judy Gold’s one-woman show “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.” Indeed, these women know how to keep us laughing. And yet, why aren’t there more of them?

Topics: Comedy

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How to cite this page

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

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