In case you were not part of the millions of viewers cracking up at these videos, earlier this year YouTube became flooded with vignettes depicting people’s interpretations of “things people say,” including those about Jewish attitude and behavior in everyday life. Everyone from Jewish girls to Jewish mothers to even things Christians say to Jews, “Do you like bagels? Do you speak Hebrew? Is Tiger Woods Jewish? You don’t look Jewish.”
What makes the clips so comical is not just that they are hilarious and somewhat accurate, but that we are also able to laugh at ourselves and accept who we are. When I watched them for the first time, I couldn’t help but laugh and imagine people I knew that might say or think those very lines. Comedy is not always about truth, but it does build on some truth, making some of these one-line quips quite colorful. They call it “roasting,” but when people make these videos, they are in a sense honoring and acknowledging their heritage in a fun and comical way.
I’ve heard people say that humor is a Jewish coping mechanism, used to defend against harsh stereotypes. Regardless of its origins, Jews seem to have been endowed with a miraculous ability to make others laugh and even respectfully poke fun at themselves. Jews have always been known for their sense of humor in American society, and their infectious comical genius has influenced modern comedy and humor as we know it today.
Humor is a part of our heritage. It’s in our blood. We may not all be Adam Sandlers or Sarah SIlvermans, but we can sure pretend to be—especially with these YouTube videos—and still have a good laugh. Through our humor, each of us is able to express ourselves and discover our own voices. But whether you are Jewish or not, you have got to keep on laughing and cracking jokes because it’s what keeps life fun and interesting, and maybe acts as a tiny distraction from all the chaos that surrounds us.