Title: “Shtick Shift – Jewish Humor In The 21st Century”Author: Simcha WeinsteinPublisher: Barricade Books
When we first received Rabbi Weinstein’s new tome, following the great success of his first book, Up, Up and Oy Vey, we expected a collection of guffaws and chortles. His latest is really almost his doctoral dissertation on American humor (or should we spell that “humour” since he’s an Englishman?), complete with a glossary and a full set of endnotes.
Shtick Shift was written to somewhat explain how Jewish humor has just about hijacked the American public conscious, just as Yiddishisms like “shtick” have entered the American-English vernacular.
For example, most Americans surely recognize the name “Seinfeld” as being the moniker of someone who is Jewish, but the comedian by that name is now considered by almost everyone as being as “American as apple pie.” We’ve “made it” in civil society and our stand-up comedians no longer utilize self-deprecating humor onstage as when their audiences consisted mostly of Jewish co-religionists.
Now – we’re “mainstream!”
Weinstein’s small book provides a complete dissection of American humor and many well-known humorists, making a heroic attempt to explain the process of how our Jewish humor became American, and how American civilization has influenced the things we find humorous in the first place.
This may be his “doctoral dissertation,” but it’s an easy-to-read exposition for anyone, including fans of Jewish humor and humorists, toward understanding and appreciating the contributions of Jewish ideas and civilization to the wider world.
Everything and everyone modern is in here – “The Nanny,” “Borat,” Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Lenny Bruce, etc., as well as many of the Jewish institutions and life events, such as weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, charitable fund-raisers, even funerals.
Simcha Weinstein fully explains what and why Americans are finding funny nowadays and why Jewish humor is no longer self-deprecating as it was in our parents’ generation.Aharon Ben Anshel