: The Subversive Tradition of Jewish Female Comedians "Let the fat girl do her stuff!" yelled the audience one night as a young Sophie Tucker came on stage. Even then, Tucker knew that size didn't matter "if you could sing and make people laugh" (Tucker 11). Tucker is one of six veteran comedians profiled in the Jewish Women's Archive's documentary film, Making Trouble, who used not only her body, but her subversive Jewish wit to make people laugh. Of the group, only writer Wendy Wasserstein didn't go on stage herself, but joins the other funny women in this film by dint of her legacy of thought-provoking, trouble-making, female characters. Like the others, Wasserstein doesn't so much laugh at women, but at the things that women find strange and funny. She wanted to give them their dignity, rather than render them as caricatures. "Women who shopped at S. Klein's and Orbachs," Wasserstein comments. "Women who knew their moisturizer," like Gorgeous Teitelbaum, the bloozy matron of The Sisters Rosensweig (MT). Fanny Brice, Molly Picon, and Gilda Radner mugging it up may not seem dignified, and certainly Joan Rivers clowning about fallen vaginas looking like bunny slippers is anything but (MT).
Studies in American Jewish Literature – Penn State University Press
Published: Nov 7, 2010