Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jewish Mothers of Studio 60

Complaint about this week's episode:

From an Entertainment Weekly article:

> Also infuriating: the running gag about Harriet's inability to tell a
> joke. She needed one for a speech, and Matt gave her one that she
> kept butchering in her attempts to retell it. Matt likened her gag
> mangling to an ailment.

OK, we can debate whether a sketch actor can tell a joke.

But it was the wrong joke for *her*. Wouldn't matter if she told it correctly or not, *she's* not the person to tell a Jewish-mother joke. At best it would just seem incongruous, not funny, and at worst, some kind of put-down. The whole point of the Jewish mother joke is that through sarcasm, the mother makes the son feel guilty. So what's a blonde female Evangelical Christian's relevance to this joke?

It's like, well, someone assigning me to tell a self-denigrating black joke, when I'm a tubby bearded Orthodox Jew of Eastern European descent. It would look bad, if not offensive.

I raised this on an Aaron Sorkin discussion list, and interestingly, the other person who agreed with me had a Jewish name.

Another commentor held that the whole exchange is "ironic", that an Evangelist would be told to tell a Jewish joke, that a comic couldn't do stand-up. "What am I missing?"

My response:


Within the context of the character giving the speech, it's just wrong. As in, imagine her actually standing up and giving the speech, the joke would probably fall flat.

Within the context of us watching the show, it's ironic, because "look, Matt the Jew gives Harriet the Evangelical a Jewish joke to tell. Ha ha."

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