Starting with the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, passing through the neurotic comedic genius of Woody Allen and getting to the present comedic scene where actors like Sarah Silverman, Hudd Apatow and Andy Samberg are among the best in comedy. The question is – how come there have been and still are so many Jews in comedy? There are several possible reasons and explanations of why there are so many Jews in American comedy.
First of all, the fact that Jews in America are a very small and white minority as compared to the Christians and Catholics, so in order to deal with the fact that Christianity is on every corner, in every movie and the Christian holidays are so widely commercialized and celebrated could be the reason for the American Jews to feel a little overwhelmed. The best way to deal with this situation is through humor.
Another possible reason for the Jewish comedy phenomenon in the US could be the Tikkun Olam Jewish learning. It translates as “to repair the world. Jews believe that they can repair the world by doing good things, helping the less fortunate and striving toward living a more fulfilling life, since Judaism stresses on the importance of this life, rather than the afterlife. And what better way to make the world and life better – than some humor? Jewish people believe they are the “Chosen ones” who are put on earth to make it a better place. Judaism doesn’t involve the aggressive conversion, and in fact if someone is willing to convert to Judaism there is a very strict policy of three refusals and a number of other requirements before the process of conversion can begin. This factor makes the Jewish community tighter, and no doubt requires some humor to cope with.
In fact, the latter is another possible reason for the strong presence of Jews in US comedy. The fact that the community is very much smaller than the overwhelming Christian community in America has made them stick with each other and to try to politely refuse all invitations to join the mass American religion and be like the Christian Americans. Relenting to humor is a good way to deal with this overwhelming difference in the traditions, holidays, food and other parts of the Jewish life.
Also, if you have noticed the Jewish comic artists most commonly rely on the excessive talking, and excessive talking is in many cases caused by nervousness. Living as a tiny minority which is so different than the majority of people around you can definitely cause this kind of nervousness.