SNL With Guest Host Larry David Stirs Up Jewish and Concentration Jokes -- Was it Worth it Nielsen Wise?

Written Pondering Why Controversy Draws Eyes by Bridger Cunningham

November 4's episode of SNL featured Curb Your Enthusiam's Larry David as its guest host, sparking both laughs and controversy as the focus of his humor was Jewish stereotypes laced with discussions over recent scandals and Concentration Camp jokes.  A bold stroke indeed due to timing, and the ratings did just fine.  Per, Saturday's outing set a season high in overall viewers (4.7), yet the target demographic was down (1.8 vs. the prior week's 2.2 outing).  But the ratings were not the topic igniting the discussion, as David's jokes hit several nerves as the focus of his skit took aim at Jewish stereotypes in relation to the recent sexual misconduct allegations.  David, who happens to be Jewish, had the audience roaring with laughter, yet earned ire from the Anti-Defamation league.

So what jokes have everyone abuzz?  Let's examine his brand of delivery:

David's opening monologue was self depreciating humor, remarking what a loser he was when he entered the entertainment industry.  He went for broke and riled up the crowd:

“I couldn’t help but notice a very disturbing pattern emerging, which is that many of the predators are Jews,” said David, whose Curb Your Enthusiasm once included a plot about mistaking Survivor cast members with camp survivors, said. “I don’t like it when Jews are in the news for notorious reasons.”

“I know I consistently strive to be a good Jewish representative,” David said after a crude joke about Harvey Weinstein. “When people see me, I want them to say, ‘Oh, there goes a fine Jew.’”

As if that statement didn't throw matches into a drought-laden field, David upped the controversial bar with an improv for dating in in World War II's Concentration Camps:

“I’ve always been obsessed with women and often wondered, if I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power, and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would.”
“Hey Shlomo, look at the one by barracks 8,” David continued. “Oh my God, is she gorgeous?!… I’d like to go up and say something to her.
“Of course, the problem is there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp: ‘How’s it going? They treating you OK? You know, if we ever get out of here, I’d like to take you out for some latkes.”
Larry David's approach was self-depreciation, and it appeared he delivered the same depreciation to an industry with those of religious denomination being dominant with folks from the Jewish lineage, including recently disgraced Harvey Weinstein.  Intelligent fans know he is a small representation of folks from this background, and not all who identify as Jewish host scandalous parties at the Peninsula Hotel.  Perhaps David is making an earnest attempt to discuss the elephant in the room in an effort to heal.  Or simply going for the jugular for laughs.  Either way, SNL made the headlines again with the same bold humor which launched the show in the 70's.  Did Larry David's jokes register as hilarious or offensive?  Viewers be the judge and know religion/lineage can often be the butt of humor.

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