The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 12, No 1 (2024)

Book review: Jennifer, Caplan (2023). Funny, You Don’t Look Funny. Wayne State University Press.

Arie Sover


Judaism and Humour from the Silent Generation to Millennials

Jennifer Caplan has produced a new book about Jewish humour in the United States. She discusses the development of Jewish humour in that country chronologically, with reference to the social changes experienced by the Jews over the years, and with reference to the Jews’ perception of themselves vis-à-vis the general American society.

Her main question is whether the attitude of the humour creators toward the Jews and Judaism is a valuable essence, or only a hollow cover from which a type of humour can be extracted. Caplan analyses four generations of Jewish humour creators: the “Silent Generation,” 1925-1945; the “Baby Boomers,” 1946-1965; “Generation X,” 1966-1979; and the “Millennial Generation,” 1980-1995. Her research covers literature, film, television, and social networks. In each field, she presents examples of humour regarding Jewish rituals or Judaism and follows how the approach to these topics changed across the generations.


Davies, C. (2018). Jewish jokes about Jewish women: Seeking the hidden gentile. In A. Sover (Ed.), Hatshok [in Hebrew] (pp. 45-68). Carmel.

Glazer, N. (1988). American Judaism. University of Chicago Press.

Sover, A. (2021). Jewish humour: An outcome of historical experience, survival, and wisdom. Cambridge Scholars.