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Jews at HomeThe Domestication of Identity$
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Simon J. Bronner

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113461

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113461.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

From the Nightclub to the Living Room: Gender, Ethnicity, and Upward Mobility in the 1950s Party Records of Three Jewish Women Comics

From the Nightclub to the Living Room: Gender, Ethnicity, and Upward Mobility in the 1950s Party Records of Three Jewish Women Comics

Chapter:
(p.188) Six From the Nightclub to the Living Room: Gender, Ethnicity, and Upward Mobility in the 1950s Party Records of Three Jewish Women Comics
Source:
Jews at Home
Author(s):

Giovanna P. Del Negro

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113461.003.0007

This chapter addresses mass-media culture, as the Jewish home-based value of laughing at oneself goes public with the rise of the recording of Jewish comedy acts. It explores the bawdy humour of Belle Barth, Pearl Williams, and Patsy Abbott — three working-class, Jewish, stand-up comics who were hugely popular in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It looks at how this group of entertainers positioned themselves at the intersection of gender, Jewish ethnicity, class, and whiteness in the 1950s, as well as the significance that their humour had for both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. With their earthy, shtetl sensibility and their smatterings of Yiddish, these performers, who attained their greatest popularity in their middle years, railed against societal mores that told them to be quiet, well-behaved, and sexually passive. That some of the prominent comedy recordings brought into living-rooms across America were by Jewish women brandishing a racy, Yiddish-tinged humour becomes significant in the context of the middle-class suburbanization that Jews were experiencing during the 1950s.

Keywords:   Jewish women comics, Jewish comedy, Belle Barth, Pearl Williams, Patsy Abbott, Yiddish, stand-up comedy, bawdy humour

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