Jokes: A Genre of Thought

Die Laughing: Killer Jokes for Newly Old Folks

by William Novak

Touchstone, 256 pp., $19.99


Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It All Means

by Michael Krasny

William Morrow, 304 pp., $19.99

Epicurus (341–270 B.C.E.), the Greek philosopher and founder of the school of Epicureanism, may also have been the world’s first shrink. Along with a cosmology and an ethics, Epicurus had a program for stemming anxiety, a four-step method for achieving serenity. Here are the steps: 

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About the Author

Joseph Epstein’s latest books are Frozen in Time: Twenty Stories (Taylor Trade) and Wind Sprints: Shorter Essays (Axios Press).


gwhepner on January 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm

You need at least four people for a joke that's Jewish,
one to tell it, one to get, one who doesn't
get it, and a fourth who tells you that you mustn't
tell it, since it is so old it's not even newish.
A fifth is useful, he's the one who analyzes,
as Judith analyzed the head of Holofernes,
the joke which he will surely tell you he despises,
and tell one he thinks funnier, about attorneys.

[email protected]
sbeinfeld on January 6, 2017 at 7:21 pm
Joseph Epstein needs to brush up on his Yiddish. A wise man is a "chochem", not "chachem", though Edward Shils's "chachemess" is OK. "Veh es meer" is a flawed transcription of "vey iz mir" A propos Shils: his joke about the three untruthful synagogue members exposed by the Rabbi is actually a variant of the story Sholom Aleichem records as being told to him at his own expense. A Jewish traveler at a train station is persuaded to miss the last train before the Sabbath in order to complete a minyan. The traveler is put up for the night, urged to taste his wife's cooking and so on for several days. When the traveler finally leaves, he is presented with a detailed bill. The traveler is outraged but agrees to go to the town Rabbi to settle the case. The Rabbi solemnly rules he must pay. When the traveler grudgingly hands over the money, the local man indignantly refuses to take it. When he asks what the demand for payment was all about, he is told--"I didn't want you to leave town without seeing what kind of Rabbi we have." Sholom Aleichem was for three years a town "rabiner" (state-appointed rabbi).
bikerabbi on February 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm
מזל טוב You have prooved his above citation: "Michael Krasny, ... notes that “there is an old saw about how every Jew thinks he can tell a Jewish joke better than the one who is telling the joke.”"

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