Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder’s “Haunted Honeymoon” Interview

The schlemiel is often called a man-child.  The best way to articulate what this means is by taking a look at comedians who play men-children.  I originally planned to blog on this topic.  And I thought of three routines.  I first thought of the Three Stooges’ children routine. I was especially interested in the later […]

The Final Notes of Irving Howe and Ruth Wisse’s Epistolary Exchange over Sholem Aleichem

The last three letters exchanged between Irving Howe and Ruth Wisse over Sholem Aleichem’s fiction and its meaning show us the subtle differences between these two important thinkers and literary critics.  As I pointed out in my last blog entry about this dialogue, Ruth Wisse suggested that Aleichem was, in contrast to the Yiddish writers […]

The Schlemiel and Horror, or Zero Mostel on the Muppet Show

Zero Mostel z”l (1915-1977), in this brilliant segment from a 1977 episode of the Muppet Show, laughs at the Horror genre (or I would argue, getting spooked by crisis theory). What better example do we have of the laugh that laughs at the (satanic) laugh (or smile)? This is, as my father’s friend David Kaplan […]

The Trick is on the Trickster or Comic Self-Destruction: Traumatized Children and A Ruined Old Clown named Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin knew very well of the trickster.  To be sure, they saw themselves as tricksters who, in doing their comic tricks, looked to destroy something and find something else (something new) in the midst of ruin.  By way of shock, they both believed they could arrive at some kind of “hidden” […]

Baudelaire, Children, and Horror (Take 1)

As can be seen from many of my previous posts, I have been addressing the work of Charles Baudelaire on laughter and the comic. The reason I have spent so much time on this is because I have been attempting to understand Walter Benjamin’s reading of (and identification with) the comic (in general) and the […]

Lost in Translation: On the Americanization of Sholem Aleichem’s Kasrilevke

In Isidore Goldstick’s 1948 translation of Sholem Aleichem’s Inside Kasrilevke there is a lot of American slang.  Instead of being resentful, I found it to be rather fun imagining the driver of a tram in Kasrilevke speaking to his conductor Yossel in the following manner about tobacco or rather “tabacky”: ‘Let’s have some tabacky, Yossel,’ […]

“Let’s Have the Music” – Reflections on Sholem Aleichem’s Inside Kasrilevke – Take 1

In a “Five Books” interview, the Jewish-American writer Allegra Goodman was asked what five books in Jewish fiction she would suggest people read.  Each book, for Goodman, would provide readers with one sense of the Jewish experience.  One of the books she chose was Sholem Aleichem’s Inside Kasrilevke (the contents of which are the stories […]