Josh Lambert in "History of Jewish Comedy in America"
What do Sarah the matriarch, Rabbi Akiva from the Talmud and Saturday Night Live's Adam Sandler have in common? They all encourage us to laugh. The CJLL welcomes scholar-in-residence Josh Lambert for a "History of Jewish Comedy." Through lectures, film clips and some improv, come and learn about the relationship between humor and the Jewish experience throughout the ages.
Josh Lambert is a Tablet Magazine contributing editor and comedy columnist, is the academic director of the Yiddish Book Center, visiting assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author most recently of Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture.
Jan. 10, 7 p.m. — Cocktails and Comedy (21 and over only)
The evening begins with drinks and desserts followed by a montage of Jewish clips, old and new, from the famous show Saturday Night Live. Lambert will talk about the history of Jews on SNL and what that reflects about the way Jews are and have been perceived across America.
Jan. 11, 4 p.m. — The Roots of Jewish Humor
Beginning with Sarah's laughter and drawing on examples from rabbinic literature, this talk will examine what kinds of humor — intentional or otherwise — can be found in traditional Jewish sources.
Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m. — Laughing at Jews in America
What do Americans laugh at, when they laugh at Jews? Attending to Jews' contributions to vaudeville, early recorded comedy, the rise of broadcast media, the golden years of stand-up and improv and the contemporary comedy scene, this talk will treat figures from Sophie Tucker to Lenny Bruce to Sarah Silverman. Why have such performers resonated with such wide national and global audiences?
Jan. 13, 6 p.m. — Dinner and Learn: Jews Encounter Modernity Laughing
What role did humor play in Jews' negotiations with the onset of modernity? After briefly surveying the uses of humor in early modern Eastern European Jewish culture, particularly in the purim shpil and badkhanes, this discussion will focus on the use of satire and parody by proponents of the haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment) and their intellectual descendants.