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Performing Art


American Jewish Comedy (LLSAJC)

Class Description:

Known historically as the "People of the Book," but modern, American Jews have also arguably earned the label "People of the Joke." From writers to visual artists, and from producers to performers, American Jews have played a preeminent role in the shaping of American humor in its totality. This course will survey the development of Jewish comedy as a cultural phenomenon throughout the 20th century. 

Whether Jewish comedy stems from a basic sense of "Jewishness," or whether American comedy just happens to be larded with people who happen to come from a Jewish background, is a question to be explored in class.   But by analyzing the development of Jewish humor, we will be able to gain insight into the variety of Jewish cultures and the ways in which they are affected by historical valences, as well as issues such as acculturation, assimilation, and methods employed in matters of cultural maintenance.

Below is brief breakdown for 3-4 session class:

I. Defining Jewish comedy and delineating what makes American Jewish comedy unique within the long history of the Jewish people.

II. Founders and Pioneers:  From Vaudeville to the Movie industry:  Focus on the Marx Brothers and Three Stooges

III. American Jewish Comedy at mid-century and transitioning to Television:  Focus on Lenny Bruce, Sid Caesar and his crew and Mad Magazine.

IV. "Modern" American Jewish Comedy, from Mel Brooks to "Broad City."

Instructor: Daniel Bronstein
Location: By Zoom and with Individualized Sessions
Tuition: $200




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