The Haunted Smile: The Story Of Jewish Comedians In America

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9781586481629: The Haunted Smile: The Story Of Jewish Comedians In America
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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.

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About the Author:

Lawrence J. Epstein is a Professor of English at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, New York. He is widely considered to be a leading expert on American Jewish life and is the author of such books as A Treasury of Jewish Anecdotes and A Treasury of Jewish Inspirational Stories. He frequently lectures on American popular culture and lives with his wife and family on Long Island, New York.

From Publishers Weekly:

Epstein (A Treasury of Jewish Anecdotes) has done yeoman work to make this enormous subject accessible. His saga includes nearly all the top-level Jewish-American comedians, from the Marx Brothers and Allen Sherman to Joan Rivers and Jerry Seinfeld. Their stories are contextualized by era: the vaudeville years of immigrant America; the rise of radio and the Borscht Belt before 1950; the "years of acceptance," when Jews entered the mainstream on TV and on stand-up stages; and "the years of triumph" for Jewish comics and filmmakers since the mid-'60s. Epstein offers keen psychoanalysis: many early successful comics had weak fathers who failed in the New World, but ambitious mothers; Mort Sahl's breakthrough suggested that "political and social needs transcended the private needs of audience members." But the book can be enjoyed simply for the funny bits resurrected in the author's mini-profiles. He includes a chapter on Jewish woman comics and an appendix on the Yiddish roots of Jewish humor. Thorough as it is, though, it ignores some contemporary standouts and understandably only touches on the Jewish contribution to situation comedy. Aalthough Epstein speculates that Jewish comics might be able to "enhance the distinctly Jewish culture surviving in America," his definition of what makes comedy Jewish suggests that this question will linger. Seinfeld's language betrays "a distinctly urban and distinctly Jewish approach to dealing with anxiety," and the show's title made no attempt to hide his Jewish name, Epstein states, hinting that the "longstanding tension between Jewish and American identities" is partly overcome because the characters are too adolescent to choose one over the other. (Oct.)Forecast: While this title will not have readers schlepping to the bookstore in great numbers, its historical angle makes it unique, and it should do well on the Jewish circuit.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description INGRAM PUBLISHER SERVICES US, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. 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. Seller Inventory # APC9781586481629

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Book Description INGRAM PUBLISHER SERVICES US, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.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. Seller Inventory # APC9781586481629

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Book Description PublicAffairs. Paperback. Condition: New. 384 pages. Lawrence Epsteins 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 comedians work to great effect, making for a book that is both a thoughtful work of history and a great deal of fun. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781586481629

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