The Humor Corner

Jewish Comedy. Seriously.

Jewish Humor. What is it?  A joke? A story? A statement of a problem? An approach to solving a problem? How do YOU, reader, describe Jewish Humor?

Steve Allen referred to American comedy in 1981 as “a sort of Jewish cottage industry,” putting Jewish participation in the field approaching 80%.

Some, though by no means all, of the approaches advanced those efforts  –  arguments focusing on language, on sensibility, on history are hinted at above.

But Jewish comedy tends to resist any single explanation. So, at your next gathering, discuss Jewish Humor or is it Jewish comedy? Hmm.

“All comedy has humor, but not all humor is comedy.”

Then, be sure to check back next month for more Jewish Comedy. Seriously.

Excerpted from the book Jewish Comedy by Jeremy Dauber

    The Humor Corner - March 2020

    Humor Corner strays a bit this month to keep readers' minds fresh.
    Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations, published 1972, is a dazzling 4,352 Proverbs, Folk Sayings, Witticisms, Insights, Maxims and Moralisms - collected over 58 years.They are garnished with irony, paradox, and truth. Enjoy. Learn. Discuss..
    "I have tried to include in this book, only those sayings that will make you laugh, smile, or think."

    Leo Rosten
    "I never met a man in whom I failed to recognize some quality superior to myself if he was older, I said he has done more good than I; if he was younger, I said he has sinned less; if richer, I said he has given more to charity; if poorer, I said he has suffered more; if wiser, I paid honor to his wisdom; if not wiser, I judged his faults less severely. Take this to heart my son"
    The Testament of Judah ben Jehiel Asher (1250-1327


    Only one type of worry is correct; to worry because you worry too much.

    Riches bring anxiety; wisdom gives peace of mind.
    All night, all cows look black.
    Men see what we wear, not what we eat.
    A goat has a  beard- but that does not make it a rabbi.
    A homely patch is prettier than a beautiful hole.
    If velvet and silk hang in your closet, you can step out in rags
    When you have a new coat hanging on the wall, your old one does not feel ashamed.
    A man looks to you the way you look at him.

    Humor Corner - January 2020

    Joey Bishop's quip:
    Back in 1942, I said, "Mama, I'm going into the Army."

    And she told me, "All right, but don't come home late."

    A rabbi said to six-year old Bobby: "So your mother says your prayers for you each night. Very commendable. What does she say?"

    And Bobby replied: "Thank God he's in bed."


    Humor Corner - October/November 2019

    Mort visits Dr. Saul, the veterinarian, and says, "Doc, my dog has a problem."

    "So, tell me about the dog and the problem." says the Doc.

    "It's a Jewish dog. His name is Shel and he can talk," says Mort.

    "He can talk?" the doubting doctor asks.

    "Watch this!" Mort points to the dog and commands, "Shel, Fetch!"

    Shel the dog, begins to walk toward the door, then turns around and says,

    "So why are you talking to me like that?

    You always order me around like I'm nothing and you only call me when you want something, then you make me sleep on the floor, even with my arthritis.

    Then you give me this fahkahkta food with all the salt and fat, and you tell me it's a special diet. It tastes like dreck! YOU should eat it yourself!

    And do you ever take me for a decent walk? NO, it's out of the house, a short pish, and right back home.

    Maybe if I could stretch out a little, the sciatica wouldn't kill me so much! I should roll over and play dead for real for all you care!"

    Doc Saul is amazed, "This is remarkable! So, what's the problem here?”

    Mort says, "He has a hearing problem! I said 'Fetch' not 'Kvetch."


    Humor Corner - September 2019

    In the tradition of legal arguments of the Talmud, one prominent type of Jewish humor involves clever, often legalistic, solutions to Talmudic problems, such as:

    Q: Is one permitted to ride in an airplane on the Sabbath?
    A: Yes, as long as your seat belt remains fastened. In this case it is considered that you are not riding, you are wearing the plane.

    Aboard an El Al plane from Israel to America was a grandma taking her very first flight. They had only been aloft for a few minutes when the lady complained to the flight attendant that her ears were popping. The girl smiled and gave the older woman some chewing gum assuring her that many people experienced the same discomfort.

    When the plane landed in NY, Grandma thanked the flight attendant. “This chewing gun worked fine,” she said, “but please tell me how I get it out of my ears?” (“Yes” we hear the guffaws and hisses…but this is a true story. Well, maybe not.)


    Is Jewish comedy serious business? Well, isn’t it almost as massive in scope, as meaningful in substance as Jewish history itself? It’s a tradition with a history. The story of Jewish comedy - what Jewish humor did - and meant for the Jews at different times and places, as well as how, and why, it was so entertaining, is the story of American popular culture; the story of Jewish civilization; a guide to an essential aspect of human behavior. The fact it happens to be immensely entertaining to read, talk and teach about is a bonus.

    …continued next month. From JEWISH COMEDY (A SERIOUS HISTORY) by Jeremy Dauber


    Humor Corner - August 2019

    Arnold is very nervous as he goes up to his girlfriend's father and says, "Mr. Joseph, you know I've been dating your daughter, Esther, for over 9 months now. Well I'm happy to tell you that we've both fallen madly in love with each other and want to get married. I'm here to ask you kindly for your daughter's hand in marriage. What do you say?"

    "What do I say?" beams the father.  "This is what I say. Mazeltov, my boy! I've been waiting for this to happen for some time. Of course, you can marry Esther, but only on one condition."

    "What condition is that?" asks Arnold, looking a bit worried.

    "On condition that the hand you're asking for, replies the father, with a mischievous grin, "is the hand that is always in my pocket."


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