TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

Over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, the President issued a mea culpa that is anything but, causing a firestorm of protests to erupt over vulgar comments he denies making. We’ll take you to the frontlines of the fiery fight with the city councilman who has been to jail and back for the cause. In a MetroFocus exclusive, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams is here with a recap of his weekend and his plan to shake up Albany. In New York Harbor, oysters are coming back in droves. But these aren’t the kind you eat. Bill Ulfelder, The Nature Conservancy’s New York executive director, is here to tell you why. Have you ever wondered what makes so many Jewish comedians successful? It’s tradition! We explore the serious side of Jewish comedy with “Jewish Comedy: A Serious History” author, Jeremy Dauber.

Aired on January 16, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

IMMIGRATION, RACE AND A FIRESTORM IN NEW YORK CITY.

ON MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

WEEKEND, THE PRESIDENT ISSUES A MEA CULPA THAT'S ANYTHING BUT, AND A FIRESTORM ERUPTS FROM A COMMENT HE DENIES MAKING.

AND WE'LL TALK WITH COUNCILMAN WILSON AND HIS PLANS TO SHAKE UP ALBANY.

> IN NEW YORK HARBOR, OYSTERS ARE COMING BACK IN DROVES, BUT THESE AREN'T THE KIND YOU CAN EAT.

> AND HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT MAKES SO MANY JEWISH COMEDIANS SUCCESSFUL?

WE SHOW YOU THE SEEDY SIDE OF JEWISH COME BY.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH RAFAEL P. RAMON, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

AFTER DAYS OF GLOBAL UPROAR, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP OFFERED REASSURANCE THIS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WEEKEND OVER HIS REMARKS THAT ANGERED MUCH OF THE NATION.

I AM THE LEAST RACIST PERSON YOU HAVE EVER INTERVIEWED.

THE PRESIDENT HAS DENIED SLAMMING PEOPLE FROM PLACES HE ALLEGEDLY REFERRED TO AS S-HOLE COUNTRIES IN THE CARIBBEAN, IN AFRICA AND THEN ADDED THAT HE WOULD PREFER PEOPLE FROM NORWAY.

DESPITE HIS DENIALS, THE ISSUE OF WHO IS AND WHO IS NOT WELCOME TO AMERICA NOW DOMINATES THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION.

HERE IN NEW YORK, THE FIGHT OVER IMMIGRATION IS BOILING OVER.

AND ONE BROOKLYN COUNCILMEMBER HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY VISIBLE IN THE FIGHT.

JUMANI WILLIAMS.

THE COUNCILMAN WAS ARRESTED LAST WEEK WHILE PROTESTING THE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS.

HE ANNOUNCE HE'S FORMING AN EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE TO LOOK INTO RUNNING.

TODAY COUNCILMAN WILLIAMS JOINS US ON THE PROGRAM.

ALL RIGHT, SO COUNCILMAN WILLIAMS, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME AGAIN.

I FIRST WANT TO START WITH THE BLOW BACK FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP'S COMMENTS.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU HEARD WHAT HE ALLEGEDLY SAID.

YOU KNOW, IT'S ALWAYS AND HOPEFULLY IT FOREVER WILL BE SHOCKING, I GUESS, BUT NOT SURPRISING, IF THAT MAKES SENSE.

THIS IS WHO DONALD TRUMP IS, THIS IS I BELIEVE MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO STILL SUPPORT HIM, THIS IS THE TYPE OF THINGS THEY BELIEVE AND HE HASN'T CHANGED FROM THE CAMPAIGN MODE, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE ELECTED SO THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE WANTED.

SO WE DO HAVE TO MAKE A CLEAR AND STRAIGHT LINE BETWEEN WHAT HE SAID ABOUT HAITIANS, AFRICANS, PEOPLE IN EL SALVADOR AND THE MASS DEPORTATION WE'RE SEEING.

IT'S A CLEAR LINE BETWEEN THE BIGOTRY THAT'S HAPPENING THERE AND THE POLICIES.

AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT WE'RE GOING TO GET TO IN A LITTLE WHILE, THE PROTESTS ABOUT SOME OF THESE DEPORTATIONS.

BUT I WANT TO SORT OF GET YOUR RESPONSE, BECAUSE WHAT I WAS SEEING FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE DEFENDING THE PRESIDENT WERE SAYING, WELL, I LIVE IN A PART OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THERE'S SO MUCH HURT, JOBLESSNESS, CARE OF OURSELVES BEFORE WE TAKE CARE OF OTHER COUNTRIES.

THE PEOPLE WHO WERE DEFENDING IMMIGRATION ARE US, THEY ARE PART OF US, THEY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE AMERICA WHAT IT IS.

IT PEOPLE LIKE DONALD TRUMP AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN BENEFITING THROUGH THE RECESSION, THROUGH ALL THE DOWNTURNS, THEY HAVE BENEFITTED.

WHAT THEY HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB IS GETTING PEOPLE AT THE BOTTOM, SO TO SPEAK WHO ARE NOT BENEFITING TO FIGHT AMONGST THEMSELVES, IF SOMEHOW IF ONE PERSON WASN'T HERE THEY COULD SUCCEED.

WHERE NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

THE PEOPLE WHO WE NORMALLY CALL THE 1%, THEY SUCCEED EITHER WAY AND THEY ACTUALLY MAKE RECORD BREAKING AMOUNTS OF MONEY, WHILE THE PEOPLE YOU SPOKE ABOUT AND THE IMMIGRANTS AND PEOPLE IN THE CITY ARE ALL SUFFERING.

THAT'S THE WAY THIS THING IS DESIGNED AND THE ONE THING THAT I THINK HE HAS DONE A LOT OF GOOD HAS GOTTEN PEOPLE WHO NEVER SPEAK TO EACH OTHER NOW TALKING AND HAVE GOTTEN TO REALIZE THE COMMON ENEMIES THAT WE ALL HAVE.

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU WHERE YOU THINK THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION STANDS BUT THE FACT THAT THERE'S A GROWING CONVERSATION WITH A POSITIVE THING?

I THINK THERE'S MUCH MORE PAIN THAT I BELIEVE WOULD HAVE HAPPENED HAPPEN TO GET HERE, BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE TRUMP.

BUT I ALSO WANT TO POINT OUT, A LOT OF THESE THINGS WERE HAPPENING BEFORE TRUMP, WE CAN'T PUT EVERYTHING AT HIS FOOTSTEPS.

A LOT OF THESE POLICIES PEOPLE BELIEVED BUT TRIED TO PRETEND THAT THEY WEREN'T BIGOTED, THEY WEREN'T MISOGYNISTIC, AND WE SEE PEOPLE STILL TRYING TO DEFEND HIM, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME MAKING THE SAME ARGUMENT.

THAT'S THE ILLOGICAL NATURE OF BIGOTRY TO BEGIN WITH, SO THAT SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISING.

BUT THIS IS WHAT, UNFORTUNATELY, THESE TYPES OF BELIEFS HAVE BEEN IN AMERICA SINCE ITS FOUNDING.

THANKFULLY, THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PEOPLE WHO ARE PUSHED BACK ON THAT AND TRIED TO MAKE AMERICA WHAT IT SAYS IT WANTS TO BE, VERSUS WHAT IT ACTUALLY HAS BEEN.

YOU WERE YESTERDAY SUPPORTING OTHER CARIBBEAN AMERICANS, HAITIANS SPECIFICALLY, AT A PROTEST FOR DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., AND FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP'S WORDS.

FIRST OFF, WHY DID YOU GO TO THAT PROTEST?

ANY TIME THAT THIS MAN THAT I PERSONALLY BELIEVE DESERVES A MODICUM OF RESPECT, I DON'T EVEN THINK HE RESPECTS THE OFFICE HE HOLDS, BUT ANY TIME THAT HAPPENS, IT'S BEGINNING TO HAPPEN SO OFTEN, WE SHOULD NEVER, EVER ALLOW IT TO BECOME THE NORM, WE SHOULD PUSH BACK FORCEFULLY EVERY SINGLE TIME SO PEOPLE KNOW WE'RE NOT JUST GOING TO ACCEPT THIS.

SECOND, A LOT OF MY CONSTITUENCY ARE PROUD HAITIANS AND HAITIAN AMERICANS.

THIS IS A POPULATION THAT'S BEEN ATTACKED CONSISTENTLY.

HE'S ALSO ATTACKED PEOPLE FROM AFRICA, AND SO EVERYBODY OF MORAL CONSCIOUS SHOULD BE PUSHING BACK FROM THAT.

BUT IT ALSO COULD HAVE BEEN MY PARENTS BEFORE THEY BECAME U.S.

CITIZENS, IT COULD HAVE BEEN MY BROTHER WHO WAS UNDOCUMENTED FOR SOME TIME.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN ANY ONE OF MY CONSTITUENTS, AND LASTLY IT COULD BE ANY ONE OF US.

THEY COME FOR SOME PEOPLE IN THE MORNING, THEY COME FOR SOME OF US AT NIGHT.

I HAVE HEARD PUSH BACK AND FORTH, SOME SAY IT'S REALLY GOOD TO HAVE A FORCE OF A NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THE STREETS.

BUT IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT THOSE SAME PEOPLE PROTESTING ARE GOING TO THE POLLS, THAT THAT MIGHT BE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SHOW OF NUMBERS IN THE STREETS.

I PRIDE MYSELF ON BEING AN ACTIVIST LEGISLATURE, AND PASSING BILLS IN THE HALLS OF CITY HALL.

HOPEFULLY SOMEONE ELSE SHORTLY.

BUT ALSO IN STREETS PROTESTING.

THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT AND VERY OFTEN, THE LEGISLATORS RESPOND TO WHO'S IN THE STREETS.

MOST OF THESE MOVEMENTS AND MOST OF THE THINGS WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT IN THE PAST, THEY WEREN'T LEGISLATORS WHO DID THAT UPON THEMSELVES, IT WAS PEOPLE IN THE STREETS THAT CAUSED IT TO HAPPEN.

BUT I BELIEVE VOTING IS TREMENDOUSLY IMPORTANT.

IF YOU'RE JUST OUT IN THE STREET AND JUST MAKING NOISE, WHICH CRITICALLY IMPORTANT AND I'M DOWN WITH THAT, BUT IF YOU'RE DOING THAT WITHOUT THE COMMENSURATE RESPONSE POLITICALLY, IT COULD GO NOWHERE.

I WANT TO GO A LITTLE BIT FURTHER INTO ANOTHER PROTEST THAT WE SAW YOU IN RECENTLY AND THAT WAS FOR THE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST ROBBY RATHBUN, YOU WERE ARRESTED, YOU WERE THROWN ON THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THIS IS SOMEONE WHO HAD EXHAUSTED ALL HIS APPEALS, WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO SHOW UP FOR HIM?

WHILE PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT LAWS AND WHAT HAS BEEN EXHAUSTED, WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IS MORAL AND WHAT IS CORRECT.

MOST OF THE TIME WHEN PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, THERE ARE LAWS THAT ARE PROTECTING THE IMMORAL NATURE OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE PUSHING BACK AGAINST AND WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS THESE LAWS ARE WRONG AND THEY HAVE TO BE CHANGED AND THERE'S NO DIFFERENCE HERE.

AGAIN, AS I SAID AT THE BEGINNING, WE HAVE TOOTO MAKE A NOTATION WHAT THE BIGOTRY THAT TRUMP IS SAYING, VERSUS THE POLICIES THAT ARE PUSHED FORTH.

AND WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS NATION IS MADE OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LAWS AND THERE'S NO WAY WE CAN ENFORCE EVERY SINGLE ONE EVERYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY.

WHAT WE HAVE TO DO NOW IS WHAT'S BEST FOR THE NATION.

AND IF SOMEONE IS EXPLAIN TO ME, WHY ARE WE SEARCHING AT 7-ELEVEN AND WHY PEOPLE ARE -- THE MOST PEACEFUL AND HUMBLE PERSON YOU EVER MET, WHY HE IS BEING DEPORTED.

WE BELIEVE BECAUSE THEY ARE LEADERS IN THE IMMIGRATION MOVEMENT.

WE ACTUALLY DID HAVE HIM ON THE PROGRAM TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

BUT BEFORE I LET YOU GO --

I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE, IT'S CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE CONNECT IT.

I DON'T KNOW HOW PEOPLE CAN CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING AND NOT PUSH BACK ON THE PROTESTS FOR --

YOU ARE FORMING AN EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE TO RUN FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

IN LAYMAN'S TERMS, WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

I'M VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE.

I THINK THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNORSHIP HASN'T BEEN UTILIZED AS WELL AS IT COULD BE.

I VIEW THAT AS A VERY POWERFUL POSITION TO PUSH CERTAIN POLICIES, TO RAISE PEOPLE'S VOICES, NOT JUST TO PARROT POLICIES THAT ARE BEING PUT FORTH.

I THINK THAT'S CRITICAL OF WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW.

I HAVEN'T SEEN THAT HAPPEN.

SO I HAVE OPENED AN EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE TO SEE IF THERE'S AN APPETITE FOR THE KIND OF POLITICS I BRING, THE TYPE OF VOICE I BRING AND A VERY VIABLE VEHICLE TO GET THERE.

IS THERE ALSO A PATH TO GET THERE, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW THERE IS ALREADY A LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

AND THE GOVERNOR SEEMS VERY HAPPY WITH HER.

WE HAVE THIS EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE, AND I WILL BE RUNNING FOR THE NOMINATION IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

RIGHT NOW I AM NOT PART OF A TICKET.

AS I SAID PREVIOUSLY, I BELIEVE THE GOVERNOR HAS EARNED A PRIMARY AND I REALLY HOPE HE GETS IT.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO HAVING YOU BACK, WE HATE TO SEE YOU GO TO ALBANY, BUT IF THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS, THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

> OYSTERS.

IF RAW AND ON THE HALF SHELL ARE WHAT COME TO MIND, YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

THESE TASTY CREATURES DO HOWEVER SERVE A LARGER PURPOSE THAN ENDING UP ON THE MENU.

HERE IN NEW YORK HARBOR, OYSTERS CAN ACT AS NATURAL FILTERS AND HELP SEA WATER LEVELS.

NOW THERE'S A PUSH TO BRING THE OYSTERS BACK AND NOT JUST A COUPLE THOUSAND, OR EVEN A MILLION, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT 1 BILLION OYSTERS.

WHY SO MANY?

HERE WITH THAT ANSWER IS ONE OF THE PROJECTS LEADERS AND NEW YORK'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NATURE CONSERVE SI.

WHAT'S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN NEW YORK HARBOR AND OYSTERS.

THESE WERE SOME OF THE RICHEST OYSTER GROWNS HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO, THERE THERE WERE NOT ONLY MILLIONS OF OYSTERS, THERE WERE MILLIONS OF OYSTERS, THERE WERE REPORTS OF 10-INCH LONG OYSTERS BACK IN THE DAY.

SO IT WAS THIS VERY SPECIAL PLACE.

AND AS YOU MENTIONED IN THE OPEN, THINGS LIKE POOR WATER QUALITY, FILLING IN ALL AROUND THE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN, SEDIMENTATION, OVEREATING, THESE ARE ALL THINGS THAT ESSENTIALLY MADE THEM AS WE SAY IN THE SCIENTIFIC PARLANCE FUNCTIONALLY EXTINCT.

THEY'RE HERE AND THERE, BUT THEY'RE NOT VIABLE FOR THE LONG-TERM SO WE'RE TRYING TO GIVE THEM A BOOST.

SO THERE ARE SOME OYSTERS IN THE HUDSON?

THEY'RE NEAR THE HUDSON RIVER, THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE.

AT THE OYSTER PROJECT, WE'RE ASKING HOW CAN WE BRING THEM BACK IN BIGGER NUMBERS.

THE OIL IS A BILLION OYSTERS, TO START, THAT WOULD BE ANOTHER 100,000 ACRES.

A BIG NUMBER BUT A LONG WAY TO GO.

AND THERE'S ONLY ABOUT AN ACRE.

SO THE KEY IS GETTING OYSTER SHELLS BACK INTO THE WATER, BECAUSE THE BABY OYSTERS LOVE SPAT, LOVE TO LODGE ON AND THAT'S WHERE THEY GROW.

SO IT'S SORT OF PUTTING STRUCTURE IN THE WATER AND THEN THE BABY OYSTERS CAN BE PRODUCED.

WHEN YOU TALK TO THE KIDS, ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT THE BILLON OYSTER PROJECT.

WHEN THESE YOUNG KIDS ARE SCUBA DIVING AND THEY'RE TELLING US ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING AS THESE OYSTERS RETURN.

THIS IS TRULY A CITY WIDE NEW YORK HARBOR WIDE, I WON'T EVEN SAY EXPERIMENT, I'LL SAY EFFORT, BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IT'S FOUNDATIONAL TO THE ULTIMATE RESTORE RATION OF NEW YORK HARBOR.

SINCE YOU WEREN'T HERE WHEN HENRY HUDSON WAS HERE, WHAT ARE GOING TO BE THE BEST TYPES OF OYSTERS THAT ARE GOING TO THRIVE IN THE NEW YORK HARBOR.

THERE'S A VERY IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC QUESTION AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHY THE NATURE CONSERVANCY PARTNERED WITH THE BILLION OYSTER PROJECT.

THEY HAVE A GREAT TEAM, BUT IT'S THESE SCIENCES OF WHAT ARE THE PLACES THAT ARE GOING TO GIVE THE GREATEST LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCESS.

ARE THE PURVEYOR YOURS OR SUPPLIERS OF OYSTERS THAT TEND TO DO BETTER THAN OTHERS, WHAT ABOUT WATER QUALITY, WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH PRODUCTION AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

SO WE HAVE A BRILLIANT SCIENTIST WHO'S GOING TO WORK WITH US ON THIS RESTORE RATION AND WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT THESE THINGS ON THE FOREFRONT AND THAT WILL DETERMINE OUR DECISION MAKING IN THE LONG-TERM.

DOES THIS PROJECT COME WITH IT ANY SORT OF GUIDELINES OR RULES FOR PEOPLE SO THAT MANKIND DOESN'T DEPLETE THE POPULATION AGAIN?

RIGHT.

THAT'S THE PROBLEM THAT WE WANT TO HAVE, TO WHERE WE GET TO SUCH A PLACE WHERE THEY'RE THRIVING, I LIKE TO THINK THAT DURING MY LIFETIME I WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EAT OYSTERS FROM THE NEW YORK HARBOR.

BUT THE GUIDELINES, THERE'S A CITY AND OTHERS ABOUT WHERE THESE REEFS ARE GOING IN.

AS YOU MENTIONED IN THE OPENING, THEY DO PROTECT US FROM STORM SURGE, A SINGLE OYSTER CAN FILTER UP TO 50 GALLONS OF WATER A DAY, SO A BILLION OYSTERS 50 BILLION GALLONS OF WATER A DAY.

AND WE'RE STARTING TO SEE THINGS LIKE SEA HORSES, COMING BACK, LIVING ON THESE OYSTER REEFS.

SO WE'RE FINDING THE PLACES, THE CONDITIONS, THE RIGHT OYSTERS THAT WILL HAVE THE MOST SUCCESS AND I THINK IN ABOUT THREE OR FOUR MORE YEARS WE'RE GOING TO SEE RESULTS FASTER.

AND LOCALLY SOURCED OYSTERS ON THE MENUS IN NEW YORK.

HOW MUCH FUN WOULD THAT BE?

> SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH TO LOVE JEWISH RYE BREAD OR JEWISH COMEDY.

JEWISH COMICS, WRITERS AND COMEDIANS HAVE-

JEWISH MAN WAS HIT BY A CAR, THEY'RE WAITING FOR THE AMBULANCE.

HE SAYS ARE YOU COMFORTABLE?

HE SAYS I MAKE A NICE LIVING.

NOW A PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY GOOD LARRY DAVID FANS, ANALYSIS OF JEWISH HUMOR, IT'S NATURE, IT'S DEVELOPMENT AND IT'S VITAL ROLE THROUGHOUT JEWISH HISTORY IS EXPLORED IN A NEW BOOK TITLED 'JEWISH COMEDY, A SERIOUS HISTORY.'

DON'T WORRY THERE ARE PLENTY OF JOKES IN THE BOOK TO ILLUSTRATE THE RICH JEWISH TRADITION THAT HAVE BECOME A LAUGH TRACK ACROSS AMERICA.

THE LAUGHTER THAT HAS SUSTAINED THE JEWISH PEOPLE EVEN THROUGH THE HARDEST TIMES, JEREMY, NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

IT'S A REAL PLEASURE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S START OFF, THE TITLE OF THE BOOK, JEWISH HISTORY.

THAT'S REALLY NICE TO HEAR, I TRIED TO TAKE THIS VERY LONG HISTORY OF JEWISH COMEDY WHICH I THOUGHT SAID SOMETHING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS, IT WAS REALLY A WAY OF THINKING ABOUT HOW JEWISH CULTURE AND LITERATURE FLOURISHED THROUGHOUT THE NATION BUT TO TELL IT IN AN ENTERTAINING WAY AS WELL.

AND THAT WAS SORT OF MY GOAL IN WRITING THE BOOK IS TO TAKE ALL THESE WONDERFUL COMICS, CREATORS THAT PEOPLE HAVE LOVED AND PUT THEM INTO A LONGER TRADITION AND AN ENTERTAINING NARRATIVE AND I'M GLAD YOU FELT LIKE IT WORKED.

IT'S A LESSON IN HISTORY.

YOU START LITERALLY IN THE EARLIEST DAYS AND DESCRIBE HOW YOU HUMOR WAS WOVEN THROUGHOUT THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THE JEWISH CULTURE AND THE JEWISH HISTORY.

START FROM THE BEGINNING FOR US.

SURE, I MEAN ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK WAS THE MOST SURPRISING FOR PEOPLE TO HEAR ABOUT IS THAT JEWISH COMEDY GOES ALL THE WAY BACK, IT WAS NOT JUST AN AMERICAN PHENOMENON.

IT GOES ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE BIBLE.

MOST PEOPLE THINK THE BIBLE IS NOT FUNNY.

IT BUT I THINK THE BIBLE IS ONE OF THE GREATEST BOOKS EVER AND IT HAS ALL OF HUMANITY IN IT, ALL OF THE HUMAN CONDITION, INCLUDING COMEDY, BUT IN A LOT OF SURPRISING WAYS, SOME OF THEM ARE ABOUT SAYING THAT WE KNOW THAT HUMAN BEINGS ARE COMIC, THEY THINK THEY KNOW HOW THE WORLD WORKS AND THEY LAUGH ABOUT IT BUT THE TRUTH IS THEY DON'T, THAT GOD KNOWS BETTER.

BUT SOME ARE SAYING, WELL, THERE'S A KIND OF NERVOUS AND ANXIOUS COMEDY ABOUT JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TOLD BY GOD THAT THEY WERE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE, BUT HISTORY DOESN'T ALWAYS SEEM TO PROVE IT THAT WAY AND THAT TENSION IS PRESENT AS EARLY AS BACK IN THE THE TIME OF THE BIBLE ITSELF.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT -- WE ALL KNOW GENERALLY ABOUT COMEDY, BUT HOW DO YOU DEFINE JEWISH COMEDY?

THAT WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS MOST IMPORTANT TO FIGURE OUT AS I STARTED WRITING THE BOOK, BECAUSE I SAID IF MR.

SCHWARTZ OR MR. GOLDSTEIN WRITES A KNOCK, KNOCK JOKE IS THAT JEWISH COMEDY?

THAT WOULD BE MUCH TOO BROAD FOR ME.

SO LET'S START WITH SOMETHING THAT HAS SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT TO SAY ABOUT JEWISH HISTORY OR JEWISH LIFE OR JEWISH THEOLOGY AND IT HAD TO BE SOMEONE WHO IDENTIFIED THEMSELVES AS JEWISH.

SO EVEN THOUGH FOR FOR EXAMPLE CHARLIE CHAPLAIN WHO A LOT OF PEOPLE THOUGHT WAS JEWISH, HIS KIND OF COMEDY WOULDN'T HAVE MADE IT INTO THE BOOK.

YOU DO TALK ABOUT THE PASSAGE OF TIME IN DIFFERENT PERIODS AND YOU DO MENTION, YOU SORT OF TOUCHED BASE ON IT A MOMENT AGO, YOU MENTIONED THAT THE TRIALS AND THE TRIBULATIONS AND THE TRAVAILS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND HOW HUMOR BECAME A MEANS OF DEALING WITH THAT.

I THINK THAT'S RIGHT.

YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STRANDS OF JEWISH COMEDY AND ONE OF THE THINGS I DO IN THE BOOK IS TALK ABOUT A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF JEWISH COMEDY, STRANDS OF THEM, IS THE FACT THAT SOME PARTS OF JEWISH COMEDY, SOME SIGNIFICANT PARTS ARE THE RESULT AND IN RESPONSE TO JEWISH PERSECUTION AND A HISTORY OF ANTI-SEMITISM.

AND A LOT OF THAT KIND OF JEWISH COMEDY DEVELOPS AND IN THE WORDS OF THAT NOTED SCHOLAR MEL BROOKS, IF THEY'RE LAUGHING AT YOU HOW CAN THEY KILL YOU?

THERE ARE OTHER SORTS OF COMEDY IN THAT VAIN THAT ARE AGGRESSIVE AND SOMETIMES THEY'RE WRITTEN IN LANGUAGES THAT THE HOSTILE PEOPLE WON'T UNDERSTAND.

BUT SAYING WE'RE TRYING TO GET BACK THROUGH OUR COME BY BECAUSE WE CAN'T GET BACK ANY OTHER WAY.

MAYBE THIS KIND OF ACCOMMODATION OR THIS KIND OF AGGRESSION WITHOUT -- YOU KNOW, MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST WAY OF SOLVING THE JEWISH CONDITION, RIGHT?

IF THERE IS A WAY OF SOLVING THAT.

WITH RESPONSE TO ANTI-SEMITISM.

AND SO THAT BECOMES PART OF THE STORY AS WELL.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT THE VARIOUS PERSONALITIES, THE VARIOUS CHARACTERS AND CERTAINLY IN OUR ERA, YOU MENTIONED MEL BROOKS.

YEAH.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS, MEL BROOKS, CARL REINER.

AMAZING TALENTS.

JUST WONDERFUL STUFF.

AND YOU SORT OF TRACE IT AND YOU GET US TO JERRY SEINFELD, TALK ABOUT THE EVOLUTION, MAYBE THAT'S THE BETTER WORD.

I THINK ONE OF THE INTERESTING MOST INTERESTING ASPECTS ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN JEWISH COMEDY IS THE WAY THAT MANY OF ITS PROTAGONISTS START OUT IN COMMUNITIES AND IN SETTINGS THAT ARE ENTIRELY JEWISH.

OUR FIRST COMEDIANS IN THE GREAT WAVE OF EASTERN EUROPEAN JEWISH IMMIGRATION INTO THE UNITED STATES AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 20th CENTURY, THEY'RE OPERATING IN YIDDISH, THEY'RE WRITING ONLY FOR A JEWISH AUDIENCE THAT CAN UNDERSTAND YIDDISH AND THEY'RE RELYING ON A COMMONALITY OF JEWISH LIFE.

AS THE STORY DEVELOPS, YOU HAVE SID CAESAR AND CARL REINER WHO ARE WORKING IN MEDIA THAT ARE MASS MEDIA, AND THEY'RE WORKING IN ENGLISH NOW FOR A MUCH MORE GENERAL AUDIENCE AND THEY'RE TRYING TO MAINTAIN A KIND OF SENSIBILITY THAT THEY HAVE THAT KEEPS THEM DIFFERENT BUT FOR A WORLD THAT THEY LOVE THAT IS JUST MUCH BROADER AND ULTIMATELY WE GET TO PEOPLE LIKE JERRY SEINFELD OR HIS SUCCESSORS, LOOK, WE HAVE BEEN WELCOMED INTO THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY, WE FEEL VERY COMFORTABLE HERE, WE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THAT DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER PEOPLE, AND YET SOMEHOW WE STILL FEEL THAT OUR JEWISHNESS MATTERS TO OURSELVES AND OUR COMEDY.

AND HOW DO WE TELL THAT STORY IN OUR COMEDY?

AND I THINK IT'S FASCINATING THAT THEY HAVE HELD ON TO THAT.

IT MIGHT NOT BE THE SINGLE DRIVING FORCE IN THEIR HUMOR, BUT THEY'RE STILL AT THE CORE OF THEIR STORIES AND THEIR COMEDY.

I THINK THAT'S A GREET POINT, TAKE SOMEONE LIKE ADAM SANDLER IN THE 1990s, CERTAINLY ONE WOULDN'T DESCRIBE ADAM SANDLER AS HAVING JEWISH IN HIS COMEDY, BUT ONE OF HIS MOST RESONATE BITS FOR HIM AND OTHERS WAS THIS HANUKKAH SONG, LIKE HERE'S THIS LIST OF PEOPLE WHO ARE JEWISH.

DAVID LEE ROTH LIKES THE MINORA, SO DOES DOUGLAS KHAN.

WHY THAT TOUCHED A CORD WITH SO MANY PEOPLE, INCLUDING SANDLER HIMSELF AND THAT'S A REALLY INTERESTING QUESTION OF WHERE THIS JEWISH COMEDY IS EVOLVING FROM.

IT'S A GREAT COMBINATION OF BEING INFORMATIVE AND ENTERTAINING AT THE SAME TIME.

IT'S A LOVELY READ FOR ANYBODY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S A PLEASURE, JEREMY, THANKS FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

GREAT TO BE HERE, THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

> FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY --

> CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, AND BY PFE &

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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