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 […]

A Kvetching Schlemiel: On Cynthia Ozick’s “Envy; or, Yiddish in America” – Take One

You don’t see many schlemiels in Yiddish Literature or Jewish-American literature that spend most of their time kvetching or complaining.   Schlemiels are better known for being dreamers, not complainers.   They live on air (luftmensches); not hot air so much as the air of dreams.  However, it does happen from time to time that one occasions […]

A Brief Note on Varieties of Schlemiel Experience: Coen Brothers, Gary Shteyngart, and Judd Apatow

As far as schlemiel theory goes, I’ve been writing on a variety of the schlemiels this week.  The differences between them are suggestive.  But, more importantly, I’m seeing that I identify more with one variety rather than another.  And the reasons I have for this identification speak most to what I find, today, most important […]

Outside Llewyn Davis: The Schlemiel in the Coen Brothers Latest Film

After having read J. Hoberman’s film review of Inside Llewyn Davis in Tablet, I was excited to see the latest Coen Brothers film.   What I found most interesting about the review was the fact that Hoberman uses the schlemiel to interpret the Coen Brothers films in general and this film in particular.  But in his […]

Gary Shteyngart’s Immigrant-Becoming-American Schlemiel: The Unlikely Hero of our Times

Vladmir Girshkin is the main character of Gary Shteygart’s novel The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.   It is the story of a particular kind of Immigrant-Becoming-American-Schlemiel and his becoming-American world.  The “arc of his dreams,” as the schlemiel-like narrator of the novel shows us, begins in Russia and ends in America.  These dreams come from a character […]