Josh Kaplan

Rudy Giuliani might just be the next great Jewish comedian

Whisper it, but the former Trump lawyer's words wouldn't sound crazy out of the mouth of a Catskills comedian


NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Rudy Giuliani, former advisor to former President Donald Trump, attends the annual Memorial Day Parade on May 30, 2022 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. Dozens of cars, veterans, local politicians and nearly 50 motorcycles joined the annual parade. This year's event comes after the parade last year was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Across the country, communities have been welcoming back events honoring those who lost their lives serving in the military, after having been scaled back or canceled over the last few years. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

August 03, 2023 14:13

In the feverish and shell-shocked days after 9/11, there was one leader that stood above the rest in the rubble of downtown Manhattan.

Rudy Giuliani, then the mayor of New York, was a hero. He was warm and consoling and everywhere, showing the human side of city hall in the face of the greatest tragedy in the city’s history. He was, as everyone said, America’s mayor. Someone that managed to get the people of flyover states to not just feel sympathy, but to care about New York, to think of New Yorkers as real people, rather than a cosmopolitan abstract that they could project their political hates onto.

Anyway, now he’s not that, he’s a disgraced former Trump guy responsible for some of the most farcical scenes of the 2020 election (see Four Seasons Landscaping).

In the latest crash on the downhill trajectory of Mr Guilani’s once proud career, in a Manhattan Court he stands accused by a former employee of creating a hostile work environment through ‘wide ranging sexual harassment’ and abuse. This is obviously very grim and Giuliani deserves to lose if it’s proven in court.

The reported statements are vulgar and certainly sexist.

However, that notwithstanding, the lawsuit has also revealed that Mr Giuliani might just be one of the funniest Jewish comedians of all time.

In the court documents, a transcript was released this week alleging that Mr Giuliani said in an audio recording: “Jews want to go through their freaking Passover all the time, man oh man. 

“Get over the Passover. It was like 3,000 years ago. The red sea parted, big deal. It’s not the first time that happened.” 

Close your eyes. Imagine Jackie Mason saying that, or Woody Allen, or even Larry David. It would not sound amiss from the mouth of any old New York Jewish comedian. I pride myself on being able to separate the art from the artist. And sadly, that’s art.

It’s also alleged that Giuliani insulted the endowments of Jewish men, saying: “The way natural selection works. Jewish men have small cocks because they can't use them after they get married. 
“Whereas the Italian men use them all their lives, so they get bigger.”

Again, I’m sorry to say it, funny. Dick jokes like this one are a foundational part of Jewish comedy. The self-deprecation, the crude sexual humour, the brash tone, it’s all, I’m afraid to say, very Jewish.

As many people have noted on social media have noted, Giuliani joins a proud tradition of writers like Phillip Roth, who’s crude direction of Jewish male sexuality Portnoy’s Complaint was the subject of protest by Jews and gentiles alike.

It's a style of humour that some people find unnecessarily crude, that definitely isn't for everyone. You can say it's not funny, but you can't say it's not Jewish.

It’s often noted how similar the Jewish and Italian experience in New York is. The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn mingle and intermarry and share so many cultural similarities that in some ways Giuliani’s transition to Catskills-esque cabaret performer was totally inevitable.

He’s also from a generation that’s brasher and harsher, which inevitably leads to punchier comedy. While most of what he’s alleged to have said the former employee suing him is gross and wrong, when it comes to Jews, sadly, he’s funny.

August 03, 2023 14:13

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