Jewish Comedy

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What to expect

In a major work of scholarship both erudite and very funny, Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from Biblical times to the age of Twitter.

Organizing his book thematically into what he calls the seven strands of Jewish comedy—including the satirical, the witty, and the vulgar—Dauber explores the ways Jewish comedy has dealt with persecution, assimilation, and diaspora through the ages. He explains the rise and fall of popular comic archetypes such as the Jewish mother, the JAP, and the schlemiel and schlimazel. And he explores an enormous range of comic masterpieces, from the Book of Esther, Talmudic rabbi jokes, Yiddish satires, Borscht Belt skits, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm to the work of such masters as Sholem Aleichem, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Philip Roth, Sarah Silverman, and Jon Stewart.

Critics Review

  • “Thoughtful…Fascinating.”

    New York Times Book Review
  • “A serious and good philosophical work…that doesn’t consist entirely of jokes but has an awful lot of them in it…Some of its jokes are laugh-out-loud funny, and some of them are poignantly beautiful.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)
  • “Dauber recognizes the multiplicity of Jewish humor and wisely resists any single characterization of it…[He] deftly surveys the whole recorded history of Jewish humor.”

    Economist (London)
  • “A serious study and most interesting at its most serious and obscure.”

    New York Review of Books
  • “Dauber takes in a wide swath of intellectual territory—from Kafka to Mad magazine—but he delicately mixes scholarship with comedy in what is an entertaining and even profound book.”

    Booklist (starred review)
  • “Both erudite and breezy.”

    Forward magazine

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