A Rabbi Explains in Jewish Humor by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Rabbi Telushkin, a well known spiritual leader and author of titles on Jewish culture, faith, ethics and a Rabbi sleuth, examines the basics of ethnic humor and the significance of Jewish jokes.
In his discussion about the value of humor, Telushkin refers to famous comedians such as Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks and David Sedaris who have been giving punchlines without injury for years. The content, who and why we tell the joke is important.
Telushkin believes that because every ethnic group is impacted by its history and its culture and that's how they shape their values. It's not surprising then, that certain groups are associated with certain traits. But, Telushkin warns that there is a fine line between jokes that express aspects of life and one that is simply stereotyping. He presents numerous jokes and analyses to explain what is expressing an ethnic sensibility and what is malicious.
Telushkin lists four considerations for ethnic storytellers to avoid hostile stereotyping versus reflecting insightful aspects of life of an ethnic group:
1 - would you tell the joke to a member of the group being mocked?
2 - if members of a group don't think it's funny, it probably isn't.
3 - if the punchline is biting, then non-members of the ethnic group should be cautious telling the story.
4 - do the jokes treat members as stereotypes and dehumanize them rather than reveal truths about their life?
This book, published over ten years ago, is hugely significant is today's culture of political sensitivity and correctness. This is a great read for anyone who is interested in Jewish culture, being culturally sensitive and learning some funny jokes.
If you liked this title, check out the following:
Convenience Store Woman by Sakaya Murata
The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
The Entitlement Cure by John Townsend