Abstract

This paper explores the work of Tiffany Haddish, the Black Jewish stand-up comedian and actress, both in terms of Haddish’s contributions to the well-established canon of Jewish female comedy and in terms of the ways that Haddish’s work paves new ground. Through an analysis of Haddish’s 2019 Netflix special, Black Mitzvah, this paper first traces the stylistic and aesthetic methods that connect Haddish’s comedy with that of her Jewish peers (both historical and contemporaneous) and then considers the areas where Haddish breaks new ground in her assertion of a non-paradigmatic Jewish identity that is simultaneously embraced and othered within popular culture at large. The paper then transitions into a larger discussion of the ways in which Haddish’s work challenges how popular culture “expects” Jewish identity to manifest itself; her double visibility both as a Black woman and as a Jewish woman destabilizes the hegemonic understanding of Jewishness as homogenously white and Ashkenazic. Perhaps more importantly, Haddish acts as an important case study of the shifting demographics of Jewish visibility within American popular culture, and consequently, the critical and popular response to her work demonstrates the contradictory role that popular culture—and comedy specifically—plays in confirming and subverting stereotypes.

You do not currently have access to this content.