A Serious History
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.
“Mr Dauber deftly surveys the whole recorded history of Jewish humour...” — The Economist
“Dauber’s history of Jewish comedy is really one of how the past century’s American-Jewish comedy relates to a deeper cultural heritage… it displays impressive mastery of the subject.” — The Spectator
Shortlisted — Natan Book Award, 2018
Shortlisted — National Jewish Book Award, 2017