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4th Annual Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Lecture

October 14, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Professor  Jeremy Dauber of Columbia University on

“Jewish Comedy: A History in Five Jokes”

Jeremy Dauber is one of the leading scholars of Yiddish literature. His new book Jewish Comedy:A SERIOUS HISTORY is a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award

In a rich account of Jewish humor: its nature, its development, and its vital role throughout history that is both erudite and very funny, Columbia professor Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from biblical times to the age of Twitter. Organizing the product of Jews’ comic imagination over continents and centuries into what he calls the seven strands of Jewish comedy—including the satirical, the witty, and the vulgar—he traces the ways Jewish comedy has mirrored, and sometimes even shaped, the course of Jewish history. Persecution, cultural assimilation, religious revival, diaspora, Zionism—all of these, and more, were grist for the Jewish comic mill; and Dauber’s book takes readers on the tour of the funny side of some very serious business. (And vice versa.)

In a work of dazzling scope, it presents comic masterpieces here that range from Talmudic rabbi jokes to medieval skits, Yiddish satires and Borscht Belt routines to scenes from Seinfeld and Broad City, and the book of Esther to Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song.” Dauber also explores the rise and fall of popular comic archetypes such as the Jewish mother, the Jewish American Princess, and the schlemiel, the schlimazel, and the schmuck, and the classic works of such masters of Jewish comedy as Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Philip Roth, Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, and Larry David, among many others. Jewish comedy, as Dauber writes, is serious business. And precisely what it is, how it developed, and how its various strands weave together and in conversation with the Jewish story: that’s Jewish Comedy.

Book Signing to Follow

Free and Open to the Public

For the free reception please RSVP Ranen Omer-Sherman: ranen.omersherman@louisville.edu

Supported by the JHFE, Department of Comparative Humanities, and Hillel of Louisville.


October 14, 2018
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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University of Louisville Jewish Studies Program