If you didn’t know the where’s and when’s of Jewish humor, now you do, you big moron! KGS
NOTE: The Tundra Tabloids deems the grand work of comic Don Rickles to embody the classic characteristics of the “badkhn” then any Sarah Siverman, who’s actually not funny and a real mean spirited lefty loon of an individual.
Badkhn Belt? Jewish humor was born in 1661, prof says
By SUE FISHKOFF / JTA
Years of terror during the Chmielnicki massacres and the badkhn’s appearance led to the canonization of what we know as Jewish humor.
BERKELEY, Calif. – The Chmielnicki massacres weren’t particularly funny.
From 1648 to 1651, nearly 100,000 Jews were slaughtered throughout Ukraine by Bohdan Chmielnicki and his roving bands of Cossacks. It was arguably the worst pogrom in history, leaving hundreds of Jewish communities in ruins.
Yet according to Mel Gordon, a professor of theater arts at the University of California, Berkeley, those years of terror led to the canonization of what we now know as Jewish humor. Much of what we’ll be laughing at during Purim festivities, this year starting on March 19, stems from that horrific period.
And it happened on one day in July 1661 when the badkhn — a kind of cruel court jester in East European Jewish life — was spared a ban on merrymakers.
“We’re funny because of the badkhn,” Gordon told JTA.
“At the turn of the 20th century, the Jews were commonly perceived to be a humorless, itinerant nation,” he wrote in “Funnyman,” a 2010 book co-authored with Thomas Andrae about the short-lived Jewish comic book superhero.
So it’s not genetic, and it’s not because of suffering or social marginalization, that led to this thing we call Jewish humor — it’s the badkhn.
The badkhn was a staple in East European Jewish life for three centuries, mocking brides and grooms at their weddings. He also was in charge of Purim spiels in shtetl society.
His humor was biting, even vicious. He would tell a bride she was ugly, make jokes about the groom’s dead mother and round things off by belittling the guests for giving such worthless gifts. Much of the badkhn’s humor was grotesque, even scatological.
“They would talk about drooping breasts, big butts, small penises,” Gordon said. “We know a lot about them because they were always suing each other about who could tell which fart joke on which side of Grodno.”
It’s that same self-deprecating tone that characterizes the Yiddish-inflected Jewish jokes of the 20th century, Gordon points out. Who is the surly Jewish deli waiter of Henny Youngman fame if not a badkhn, making wisecracks at the customer’s expense?