Jews and Their Jokes | The Weekly Standard

“How odd of God / To choose the Jews,” a scrap of verse by the English journalist William Norman Ewer, has over the years had many answering refrains. “Not odd, you Sod / The Jews chose God” is one; “What’s so Odd / His son was one” is another; and a third goes “This surely was no mere whim, / Given that the goyim annoy ’im.” But the central mystery remains: God chose the Jews for what, exactly? After reading Jeremy Dauber’s Jewish Comedy: A Serious History, an excellent new survey of Jewish humor from the Old Testament through Adam Sandler, some might say that God chose the Jews to convey jokes, write sitcoms and comic movies, and publish novels peopled chiefly by clownish antiheroes.

Citing a Pew Research Center study titled “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” Dauber reports that “42 percent of respondents felt that ‘having a good sense of humor’ was part of ‘being Jewish in America today,’ 14 percent more than being ‘part of a Jewish community’ and 23 percent more than ‘observing Jewish…

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