On February 22nd, 2017 I gave a talk on the Origins of Jewish Comedy in America tracing how the American comedy scene evolved from the often tragic experiences of European Jewry. In Western Europe, Jews were struggling with the issues of assimilation versus identity. In the East, the expansion of the Russian Empire had relegated the Jewish populations of Russia and Poland into the Pale of Settlement. Fleeing to America, Jewish immigrants found themselves living in the ghetto of the Lower East Side. Yet somehow these same conditions gave rise to generations of comics that changed theater, film and television in America.
Follow the story of some of these comic geniuses who learned to Laugh Through The Tears: