All Meshugge? Jewish Wit and Humor


Source: Israelitsche Kultusgemeinde Wien

Humor is an essential component of Jewish life. It refl ects relations within the community and reactions to an often hostile environment. Jewish humor is commonly warm and all too human but since the Shoah also cynical and black as pitch. It encompasses a wide spectrum from its roots in Eastern Europe to Ephraim Kishon in Israel, and Billy Wilder, Mel Brooks, or Woody Allen in Hollywood. In between is the heyday of entertainment culture in Vienna and Berlin: cabaret, revue, and fi lm, Karl Farkas, Fritz Grünbaum, Hermann Leopoldi, Friedrich Hollaender, Kurt Tucholsky, and Ernst Lubitsch, the Simpl and Kabarett der Komiker.

The stars were persecuted by the Nazi regime, murdered in concentration camps or forced to fl ee into exile, putting an end to an era of Jewish-infl uenced humor. Unlike Berlin, Vienna was able to connect after the war with the tradition of Jewish humor through performers like Georg Kreisler, Gerhard Bronner, Hugo Wiener, and Karl Farkas. The exhibition offers an insight into the broad spectrum of Jewish humor, from the Yiddish tradition, in which Jewish wit is rooted, to cabaret in Vienna and Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s, and humor in exile and in facing the Shoah. „ALL MESHUGGE?“ takes us up to the present with a look at the development of Jewish humor in Israel and the USA.

Director: Danielle Spera

Curators: Alfred Stalzer, Marcus G. Patka

Exhibition design: LANDSIEDL & AKDOGAN