Professor Krasny Commands Laughter with New Jewish Humor Book

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL -- Krasny didn’t plan for the publication of his “Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It All Means” — with an entire chapter devoted to the humor of suffering — to coincide with Trump’s election. But its comedic timing was impeccable, with the release set to make us laugh to keep from crying. Krasny, who teaches American and British literature at San Francisco State University and Stanford University, was always appreciative of Jewish humor. Through the years, he jotted down jokes he heard. However, he began to take them seriously only when he co-taught a course with psychologist Harvey Peskin, a Holocaust scholar and past president of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. It included Freud’s “Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious,” a book about how jokes discharge aggression and anxiety, and conceal deep and repressed sexual meaning. “There was a lot to the idea that jokes have deeper meaning, that you can take a joke and analyze it like a literary narrative,” Krasny told The Times of Israel in a phone interview from his home in Marin County, north of San Francisco.