The Meaning and Value of Humor: An Interview with Marilyn Simon Rothstein

In Lift and Separate and Husbands and Other Sharp Objects (both from Lake Union Publishing) humor is the lens through all of life’s mishegas is viewed.  Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough asks author Marilyn Simon Rothstein what it means to be funny, and why it’s more essential now than ever.

B16HB-gTUAS._SY600_YZM: Have you always been considered funny?

MSR: When I was growing up in Flushing, New York, a terrible name for a wonderful community where there were two ethnic groups—Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews—my family sat around a wrought iron kitchen table and discussed one important topic—other people. Being funny was the way to get everyone’s attention. 

YZM: Do you think that Jewish humor, and in particular Jewish women’s humor, is its own category?

MSR: All humor is based on observation. So, Jewish humor is based on what a member of the Jewish community observes.  I feel that my first book, Lift And Separate, is very Jewish.