Interested in the Right Thing at the Wrong Time: On Andy Warhol’s (American) Comedic Reflections

When reading Andy Warhol’s The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again), one cannot but be struck by his absent-mindedness and innocence. It is distinctly American and, at the same time, it is urban and ironic.  Andy drifts in and out of different topics in a simple and understated way. And, […]

Facing Failure: A Levinasian Reading of Bernard Malamud’s Fiction – Part III

One of the most important things about Frank is his timing. To be sure, Frank comes out of nowhere. But he does so after Bober is held-up, beaten with a gun, and hospitalized. He comes, like a Saint, to assist him. However, as a reader, one cannot help but wonder if Frank, who is described […]

Psychotic Man-Child Fathers – Schlemiel Children: Marc Maron’s “Attempting Normal” (Part I)

When I watch comedy, I’m always curious as to what kind of life this or that comedian lived while growing up. Like many theorists of comedy, I do think there is some plausibility to the claim that comedy, in some way, is born out of and addresses some kind of trauma or loss.   Ruth Wisse, […]

On Michael Cera’s Film Short: “Brazzaville Teenager”

Michael Cera, who played a main role in Arrested Development (2000-2013) and starred in such films as Superbad (2007), Juno (2007), Year One (2009), and This is the End (2013), recently decided he wanted to direct his own film short. Cera’s film short, Brasserville Teenager, is based on a short story by Bruce Jay Friedman. […]

(Un)Happy Endings: Existential Reflections on “It was ok, an album of comedy by David Heti”

David Heti is an (un)timely comedian. His comedy speaks to a time that is becoming more and more unhappy with itself. (And I mean this in a good way since I believe that such unhappiness will prompt us to come out of our dogmatic slumber…and think.) Unlike many comedians whose jokes are purely scatological and […]

Swimming in a Sea of Invisible Ink: A Note on Ozick’s “Envy; Or, Yiddish in America.”

One of the more interesting characteristics of the schlemiel relates to his/her timing.  The comic character is belated: s/he comes too late to the party or is out of sync with what is going on.  But what is most interesting about this belatedness is how the schlemiel relates to it: the schlemiel can either be […]

Shmideo Animations: Starring Dweeb! A Note on The Menorah-Lighting-Schlemiel in a Recent Animation from Shimdeo

A friend of mine from Pittsburgh is a part of a Jewish artist’s collective called the “Hasidic Arts Collective.”  And their comic baby is called Shimdeo.  (The subtitle of the website – which is the portal to the wild-and-wacky Shmideo world gives away it’s target audience: “Awesome Stuff for Awesome Jews”).   My friend’s name is […]

A Schlemiel or Two in the Cartoon Lagoon – Part II

Like the German-Jewish thinker Walter Benjamin and like Sigmund Freud, I’m one of those people who loves searching through the trash for treasures.  For both Benjamin and Freud, the trash that they searched through is the trash of history and the past.  Their work in philosophy, literary criticism, and psychology was to look through the […]