Why Are So Many Humor Writers and Performers from Minority Groups

People whose backgrounds have included a good deal of fear, pain, and deprivation tend to be more creative because their minds have been constantly challenged on how to survive.

Jerry Lewis claims that not one great comedian ever came from a wealthy family and most come from a ghetto, street-smart background. At last count, 85 percent of the writers and performers were Jewish, but they are ambivalent about it. ("Are you Jewish?" one reporter asked Woody Allen. "Yes," he said, "but with an explanation.") It appears that a minority upbringing, filled with uncertainty, anxiety, warding off hostility, and catering to an in-group uniqueness, is fertile topsoil for humor. It is most likely the next major groups in humor will be blacks, Hispanics, and women.

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