What makes a Jewish joke Jewish

You don’t have to be Jewish

Jewish Comedy: A Serious History. By Jeremy Dauber. W.W. Norton & Company; 364 pages; $28.95.

The Jewish Joke. By Devorah Baum. Profile Books; 184 pages; £9.99. To be published in America by Pegasus in May.

Feeling Jewish. By Devorah Baum. Yale University Press; 296 pages; $26 and £18.99.

IS JEWISH humour a laughing matter? Perhaps not. Students of Jewish jokes have certainly revealed dark sides to Mr and Mrs Goldberg, their long-suffering rabbi and the implausibly articulate beggar at their door. Freud, for instance, found that the humour of the Jews was especially self-denigrating. His analysis was unscientific—the data set was nothing more than his own favourite jokes—but his conclusion rings at least true-ish. Ruth Wisse, a Harvard professor of Yiddish, suggested in 2013 that too much joking may in fact be bad for the Jews. And,…Continue reading

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