The Jewish strain in comedy is increasingly viewed as belonging to a lost era. When Joan Rivers died, she was celebrated as an old master who defined what we thought of as a Jewish comedian: a New Yorker with an unmistakable accent and inflections, whose broad insult humour “attacked the beautiful people, who were mostly non-Jewish, or Jewish converts like Elizabeth Taylor,” says Dorinson.
Alan Zweig, a Canadian documentary filmmaker, made a film called When Jews Were Funny, which premiered last year at the Toronto Film Festival, where he argues that Jewish humour is a dying art in general. Zweig says he has told audiences that while today’s best Jewish comics may be as funny as the old ones, “in my experience, the average Jew in the deli might be less funny than their grandparents. I didn’t get a lot of disagreement.”