By Gilad Atzmon
Larry David is subject to some harsh criticism and not for the first time. Two days ago he admitted on Saturday Night Live that “a very disturbing pattern is emerging… many of the predators…not all,.. are…Jews.” He then cracked some jokes about the Holocaust. American Jews are upset.
In my recent book, Being in Time - a Post Political Manifesto I elaborated on Jewish humour and the fascinating transition from 19th century Yiddish jokes to modern Jewish American comedy industry:
“Jewish humour is always political, in that it always conveys a message. 19th century Yiddish humour allowed the Jewish, Eastern lower classes to transcend their existential burden. In their jokes they could identify with the Western, Jewish, cognitive elite and remove from their hearts and minds the huge distance between the gifted and the retarded, between Tevye the Milkman and Baron de Rothschild. However 20th century American Jewish humor conveys the opposite message. Woody Allen is mocking the ‘stereotypical clumsy dysfunctional Jew’. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm television comedy also ridicules the self-centred hedonist Jewish character. Mel Brooks exaggerates the Jewish symptoms ad absurdum and Sarah Silverman wants to kill Christ again. These Jewish comedians made self-deprecation into an art form. While sarcastically mocking Jewish stereotypes, they disarm any opposition or criticism of Jewish dominance and political power. By openly owning what some would regard as problematic Jewish symptoms, these Jewish entertainers manage, by means of humour, to dismantle the dissent to the Jew. While the so-called anti-Semite accuses the Jew of being a hedonistic, self-centred, capitalist, usurious, Christ killer, David, Allen, Silverman and Brooks’ answer is simply, ‘Okay, now tell us something we don’t know.’ (Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto pg, 169)