The Times of Israel: Is that (still) funny? Scholar explores generational shifts in Jewish humor

Judaic Studies faculty member, Jenny Caplan pens book that is receiving international recognition

Jenny Caplan, the new Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati, has garnered international attention for her first book: “Funny, You Don’t Look Funny: Judaism and Humor from the Silent Generation to Millennials.”

book cover title: Funny, You Don't Lok Funny.

Jewish humor book by Jenny Caplan, assistant professor and Jewish Foundation Chair in Judaic Studies. Photo/provided.

The book, which traces attitudes toward American Jewish comedy from Philip Roth to "Seinfeld," "SNL" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," is featured in “The Times of Israel”, “Jewish Telegraph Agency” and discussed on the podcast “the revealer”.   

“I grew up surrounded by comedy, and specifically surrounded by funny Jews, so this is a subject I felt driven to explore in more depth,” says Caplan who joined UC in Fall 2022. Caplan, an assistant professor, was previously on faculty at Towson University in Maryland.

The book, she says, is the result of a decade of research devoted to the transition of Jewish humor in books, television and movies over time.

“So much contemporary conversation around American Judaism sees cause for panic in declining synagogue and Jewish Community Center membership statistics, especially for younger Jews,” says Caplan, adding “but I look at Jewish art and culture, like comedy, and I see a thriving, vibrant Jewish identity with which they simply engage in ways that our older survey models are not capturing.”

According to The Times of Israel: The way in which Jewish comedians and satirists train their lenses on the Jewish community has significantly evolved over successive generations, from which elements of Jewish life are fair game, to which stereotypes are still deployed and how such depictions are received.

Read the articles

The Times of Israel: Is that (still) funny? Scholar explores generational shifts in Jewish humor

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: How Jewish comedy found religion, from Philip Roth to ‘Broad City’

The revealer: instructions to listen to the podcast Jewish Comedy

Featured photo of Ben Stiller/iStock photo

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