Everyone knows Jews are funny. But the question is, why? With a history fraught with trauma and persecution, the Jewish people have historically used humor as a “release valve,” and even as a tool of survival. Jews have used their outsider status and the distinctive characteristics of Jewish humor – self-deprecation, challenging authority, and audacity – to rise disproportionately in the American comedy scene.

00:00 Intro
00:46 Humor in ancient Jewish texts?
02:42 Jewish persecution in the Diaspora
03:34 The Jewish Enlightenment and “outsider” status
05:14 Fiddler on the Roof
05:56 Sigmund Freud’s theory on humor
06:34 Unpacking intergenerational trauma with comedy
06:55 So-called “chosenness”
08:45 Self-deprecation
09:42 Anti-authoritarian and audacious comedy

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Image and footage credits:
Saturday Night Live
Happy Gilmore
Jim Carrey – Unnatural
Chris Rock – Total Blackout
Robin Williams – HBO’s Weapons of Self Destruction
Annie Hall
History of the World Part 1
History of the World Part 2
The Ten Commandments
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
A Night at the Opera
Modi at the Comedy Cellar
Horse Feathers
Rodney Dangerfield
The Simpsons
Hot Ones
Fiddler on the Roof
Isidor Popper
Picture Alliance/Heritage Images, Fine Art Images
Bernd Kortländer
Pictorial Parade—Archive Photos/Getty Images
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Netflix is a Joke
Comedy Club Network
I Think You Should Leave
Jewish Review of Books
Just for Laughs – Elon Gold
Sam Morril
Ahamed Weinberg – Don’t Tell Comedy
Conan on TBS
Dale C Sander
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Executive Producer:
— Barry Skolnick
Co-Executive Producer:
— Shmuel Katz

About Explainers: From ancient Jewish traditions to the modern State of Israel, we explain it all. Diving into anything and everything related to Jewish culture, history, and even religion.
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