Jewish Values: Jewish Comedy Stars: Classic to Cutting Edge

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96 p.
Finkelstein provides a succinct history of the Jewish role in American comedy and introduces readers to the Jewish comedians, performers, actors, and actresses who have made the most significant and lasting contributions. The book is divided into four sections, each with a brief introduction followed by short biographies accompanied by black and white photographs, date of birth and death, real name, and notable quotes. “Act I: On Stage” begins with an introduction to Yiddish theater in America, vaudeville, and the Borscht Belt institutions, and includes entries for Morey Amsterdam, Fanny Brice, George Jessel, Molly Picon, and Henny Youngman. “Act II: On Air” explains the shift from live theater to radio and television, and includes entries for Woody Allen, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, George Burns, Sid Caesar, Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Lewis, The Marx Brothers, and the Three Stooges. “Act III: On Fire” covers the stand-up comics of the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s like Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, and Andrew Dice Clay; the stars of Saturday Night Live like Billy Crystal and Gilda Radner; and the popularization of television sit-coms like Roseanne and Seinfeld. Contemporary biographies for Sacha Baron Cohen, Larry David, Al Franken, Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, and Ben Stiller are labeled “Comedy 2.0” and appended but an introduction to this new generation of Jewish comedians is missing. Interesting and accessible to a wide range of reading abilities.
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