Gilda Radner Influence On Jewish Humor

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During her years on Saturday Night Live from its inaugural season in 1975 to 1980, Gilda Radner helped solidify Jewish humor’s place in American hearts and on its televisions. Drawing on her Jewish upbringing, Radner used self-deprecating humor whether to fend off bullies or simply to raise her own self-esteem. Her later collaborations with writers from the Borscht Belt while on SNL further looked to her Jewish roots as inspiration for her comedic acts. Her portrayals of prominent Jewish celebrities and mocking of Jewish stereotypes in particular captivated audiences throughout the country. By steeping her humor in her Judaism, her smart and funny execution of that Jewish humor, as well as her lasting personal influence on modern comedians…show more content…
This view was confirmed by the cancellation of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which at the time was “the only network show to reflect directly and aggressively the subversive attitudes of the sixties.” Riffing on topics ranging from sex to politics, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour left no hot topic untouched – in fact, some of their favorite subjects involved front-page controversies such as the Vietnam War. With writers like Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, the Smothers Brothers show became “television’s symbol of dissent, and the power of their pulpit made them seem, to some, potentially galvanizing forces in that dissent; after the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, there were rumors they were being investigated by the FBI.” Their success threatened the governing authority in the United States, though it attracted audiences in the coveted 18 to 35-age range. When the show was cancelled in 1969, 5 months after the election of President Richard Nixon, CBS cited that “one of their shows had been turned in after the deadline stipulated in their contract;” however, the real reason is debated as political by both Martin and…show more content…
When it came time to cast his new NBC show, Saturday Night, Lorne Michaels chose Gilda Radner without an audition and before any other cast member due, he claimed, to her warmth, which Michaels called “irresistible.” Saturday Night, later known as Saturday Night Live, was more than just a job for Radner. In her memoir, It’s Always Something, she describes it as the “most important thing was those ninety minutes live on Saturday night. So what if your whole world was falling apart as long as you could find a joke in it and make up a scene. Millions of Americans saw what we did, it was a charmed time.” Overall, Saturday Night not only provided a therapeutic outlet to Radner’s life, but it was the vehicle through which she and her Jewish comedy transitioned into the American

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