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Jewish Comedy

A Serious History


Jeremy Dauber (Author)

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A celebrated scholar’s rich account of Jewish humour: its nature, its development and its vital role throughout Jewish history.

In a work of scholarship both erudite and funny, Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from biblical times to the age of Twitter. Organising 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. He also explores a range of comic masterpieces, from the Book of Esther, Talmudic rabbi jokes, Yiddish satires, Borscht Belt skits and Seinfeld 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.


“Dauber recognises the multiplicity of Jewish humour and wisely resists any single characterisation of it... [He] deftly surveys the whole recorded history of Jewish humour.” — The Economist

“In a work of substantial, scholarly research that nevertheless has room for some excellent jokes, Dauber provides much insight into how Jewish people have regarded themselves and each other down the centuries, and how Jewish comedians, having come to define American comedy, are still at the cutting edge.” — The Herald

“This rich survey takes in everything from the Book of Esther, through medieval satirical rabbinic poetry to the present-day satire of The Daily Show and supreme sitcom of embarrassment, Curb Your Enthusiasm.” — i newspaper