Laughing All the Way to Freedom: Social Functions of Jewish Humor of the Modern-Day Exodus

An inspiring talk about the crucial social role of Jewish humor at the time of the modern-day exodus of Jews from Russia by Hunter College professor Emil Draitser.

Event Venue:

Hunter College, City University of New York
695 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065
Auditorium 510 North Building

Event Date:

Friday, May 9th, 2014 | 7 pm

About the talk: Drawing on his book, Taking Penguins to the Movies: Ethnic Humor in Russia (Wayne State University Press) , Hunter College professor Emil Draitser gives an inspiring talk about the crucial social role of Jewish humor at the time of the modern-day exodus of Jews from Russia. Due to the absence of formal Jewish organizations in Soviet times, Jewish jocular was instrumental in creating a virtual community. The continuous exchange of humorous bits focusing on their shared predicaments helped Russian Jews to survive oppression, fight discrimination, reaffirm their Jewish identity, and strengthen the ties among their fellows-in-misfortune. It also reinforced the group’s boundaries and boosted its morale, helping to overcome the fear of making the life-altering decision to emigrate and start their lives anew.

About the speaker: Originally a freelance journalist in the Soviet Union, Emil Draitser was blacklisted for a satirical article and, in 1975, immigrated to the United States, where he has been a professor of Russian at Hunter College in New York City since 1986. His first book published in the United States, Forbidden Laughter: Soviet Underground Jokes ( brought him national attention. Award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, Emil Draitser has also published Techniques of Satire; Making War, Not Love: Gender and Sexuality in Russian Humor, and The Supervisor of the Sea and Other Stories. His most recent books, Shush! Growing up Jewish under Stalin (, a story of his Jewish childhood in the totalitarian Russia, and his semi-autobiographical novel on the emigration from Russia, From Here to Wherever ( , just published in Russian and being translated into English, are also imbued with Jewish humor. (For more info, visit: All interested to attend should register at no later than May 7.

Attention:  To reach the lecture hall on time, please allow at least 15-20 min time after you pick up your day pass at Hunter Hospitality Desk in the West Lobby (it is next to the outdoor sculpture at the SW corner of Lexington Avenue and 68th Street).  After getting to  the 3rd floor by the escalator, take the overpass to Hunter North Building and veer left to the stairs (or elevators), which will take you  to the 5th Floor. When your reach it, go to the farther end of the corridor, then turn left.   The entrance to the Auditorium 510 Hunter North is the last door on your left. The lecture starts at 7PM promptly. Free of charge.