from Downtown: Pete Hamill on American humor

The creators of the American Yiddish theater also provided what earlier entertainers had given to the Irish and the Germans: the immense gift of laughter.  They used gags, skits, slapstick, and wit to make fun of one another.  Romanians made fun of Hungarians.  Both made fun of Poles. All made fun of Russians.  They skewered the greenhorns, the pompous nouveau rich, the greedy landlords, the humorless goyim, the corrupt politicians; and they added something else, an attitude that forever shifted the New York mind: irony.

That is, they made jokes out of the difference between what America promised and what America actually delivered. Irony remains the essence of American humor to this day.

8 thoughts on “from Downtown: Pete Hamill on American humor

  1. I used to have a Yiddish/English dictionary titled YIDDISH, THE LANGUAGE WITH HUMOR BUILT IN. I foolishly gifted it someone who didn’t appreciate it. 😦 Oh well, so it goes. 🙂 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.