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The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America
     

The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America

4.0 1
by Lawrence J. Epstein, Jenny Dossin
 

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ISBN-10: 1586481622

ISBN-13: 9781586481629

Pub. Date: 11/27/2002

Publisher: PublicAffairs


Lawrence Epstein's The Haunted Smile tackles a subject both poignant and delightful: the story of Jewish comedians in America. For the past century and more, American comedy has drawn its strength and soul from the comic genius of Jewish performers and writers. An incomplete listing of names makes the point: The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Fanny

Overview


Lawrence Epstein's The Haunted Smile tackles a subject both poignant and delightful: the story of Jewish comedians in America. For the past century and more, American comedy has drawn its strength and soul from the comic genius of Jewish performers and writers. An incomplete listing of names makes the point: The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, George Burns, Milton Berle, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Brooks, Alan King, Mort Sahl, Buddy Hackett, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Richard Belzer, Jerry Seinfeld. These men and women, among others, form the canon of Jewish-American comedy.

In the words of the Detroit Jewish News, The Haunted Smile "offers us a deep and subtle understanding of how Jewish culture and American openness gave birth to a new style of entertainment." Often the best way to illuminate a point is to recount some of these comedians' own brilliant routines, and Epstein uses the comedian's work to great effect, making for a book that is both a thoughtful work of history and a great deal of fun.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586481629
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
11/27/2002
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
887,682
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.92(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The World of Jewish Comediansix
IThe Golden Door and the Velvet Curtain 1890-1930
1.The Land of Hope and Tears: Comedians and Immigrant America3
2.Curtain Up and Curtain Down: The Age of Vaudeville21
IIThe Years of Fear 1930-1950
3.Theater of the Mind: Radio's Finest Hour55
4.Laughing in the Dark: Films79
5.The Jewish Alps: The Rise of the Borscht Belt104
IIIThe Years of Acceptance 1950-1965
6.The Magic Box: The American Television Revolution129
7."Is There Any Group I Haven't Offended?": The Changing World of Stand-up Comedy155
IVThe Years of Triumph 1965-Present
8."I Need the Eggs": Jewish Comic Filmmakers195
9.Masters of Their Domain: Comedy All Over the Place220
10.Kosher at Last: Jewish Women Comedians253
11.The Cost of Victory: The Psychological and Social World of American Jewish Comedians270
12.Not the Last Laugh: The Future of Jewish Comedians in America278
AppendixSchlemiels and Nudnicks: The Sources and Nature of Jewish Humor287
References309
Acknowledgments331
Index343

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The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First half of of the book was very good description from a historical standpoint. A good historical outline. Second half of the book, at times, dragged on.