The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot has selected a list of the 15 greatest moments in the history of Jewish comedy.
Among the shows, routines and bits making the list are Seinfeld, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner's "2,000-Year-Old Man" routine, the Borscht Belt, Joan Rivers' 1965 debut on The Tonight Show, Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song" and Henny Youngman's signature "Take my wife, please."
The list coincides with the museum's exhibit "Let There Be Laughter – Jewish Humor Around the World," and its release is timed to its Dec. 17 gala in New York City honoring the contributions of Jews to the world of comedy.
"The humor exhibit was a no-brainer for us," said Irina Nevzlin, chair of the board of directors of the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. "Humor has always been characteristic of the Jewish people, but of course it has universal appeal, crossing all religious, political and social lines. It's a perfect subject for a museum that tells the story of the Jewish people and their contribution."
Added Asaf Galay, co-curator of the museum's "Let There Be Laughter" exhibit: "Creating an exhibition on Jewish humor — beginning from biblical times — was a joyous challenge. Listening to laughs from visitors as they walk through the exhibit shows us that we got it right and that our visitors got the punchline."
Since its opening, the "Let There Be Laughter" exhibit has drawn more than 110,000 visitors. Many of the moments highlighted in the above list can be found in original form through artifacts or reconstruction — including a replica of Jerry Seinfeld's New York City apartment living room from Seinfeld — in the exhibition itself. For more information, click here.
A full list of the museum's top 15 moments in Jewish comedy history follows (in chronological order), with the museum's own descriptions.