Dec 09, 2022  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

US 265 Jewish Humor


This course is taught from a historical perspective from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, to Jewish life in the U.S. between 1880 and 1924, to the Catskills of the 1940s (known as the Borscht Belt Comics), Lenny Bruce in the 1950s, Woody Allen and Jackie Mason in the 1960s and 70s, and contemporary Jewish humorists such as Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Adam Sandler, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chelsea Handler, and Sarah Silverman. We will analyze Jewish humor and its origins as a defense against suffering and persecution. We will watch films such as “Annie Hall” and “Borat” as well as clips of Seinfeld episodes and stand-up comedians and analyze the humor from a visual perspective such as the use of props, shticks, etc. We will examine Jewish humor—which originally started as a response to oppression, hardship, and terror—and what happens when that oppression disappears. Focus is on the importance of comedy in Jewish culture and in the immigration and assimilation of Jewish people.