Publication Date

5-1-2008

Advisor(s)

Jenkins, Ronald S.

Major

Theater

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis suggests that a major element of Jewish humor is its subversiveness. Jewish theology and culture encourages a questioning of authority. Male Jewish comedians in twentieth-century America have demonstrated subversive tendencies through socially and. politically critical jokes. Female Jewish comedians in twentieth-century America have demonstrated the same level of subversive tendencies, but not in social or political contexts until the 1970's. Instead, female Jewish comedians showed their subversive tendencies in ways that reveal a great deal about the role and perception of women in a given decade. Early in the twentieth century, when women only had a well-developed identity in the sexual and domestic realm, they exercised subversive humor by making jokes about these matters. As their political and social identities develop, so too do their socially and politically subversive jokes.

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