The Jewish joke is as old as Abraham, and like the Jews themselves it has wandered over the world, learned countless new languages, worked with a range of different materials, been performed in front of some pretty hostile crowds, but still retained its own distinctive identity. So what is it that animates the Jewish joke? Why are Jews so often thought of as 'funny'? And how old can a joke get?
The Jewish Joke is a brilliant - and very funny - riff on Jewish jokes, about what marks them apart from other jokes, why they are important to Jewish identity and how they work. Ranging from self-deprecation to anti-Semitism, politics to sex, it looks at the past of Jewish joking and asks whether the Jewish joke has a future. With jokes from Woody Allen, Lena Dunham and Jerry Seinfeld, as well as Freud and Marx (Groucho mostly), this is both a compendium and a commentary, light-hearted and deeply insightful.
Devorah Baum is the author of the forthcoming Feeling Jewish (a book for just about anyone) (Yale, 2017) and co-director of the documentary film The New Man. She is Lecturer in English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of Southampton and affiliate of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations.