136: Jeremy Dauber
When Adam Sandler first sang his “Hannukah Song” on SNL in 1994, even he was surprised by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response it received. He was singing something we all understood even if we didn’t know the details: The Jewish contribution to American comedy and entertainment is significant, undeniable, indelible. And the American contribution to global popular culture in the last century is equally palpable.
So… what? One question to ask is, is the Jewish comedy of today related in any way to the Jewish comedy of yesterday? And if so, how? Are there themes in Jewish comedy that go all the way back to the beginning of Jewish thought, and if so, what are they, how were they represented historically, and how do they show up in contemporary examples?
Wanna know? Jeremy Dauber wrote the book on the subject, Jewish Comedy: A Serious History.
We spoke recently in his office at Columbia University about how comedy evolves through context, the “complicated relationship of ownership and loss” among contemporary Jewish comedians in America, what’s so funny about fart jokes, and whether or not it’s possible to hide inside an apple pie. You’ll see.