The yarn reminded me of those told by Sam Levinson in the 1950s. He often appeared on the Steve Allen Show and the accounts of his life growing up in a family of Jewish immigrants would leave the audience writhing with laughter. The ethnic overtones of his stories gave an added spice, but basically they were funny in the way Mark Twain’s stories were funny. Stripped of surfaces differences, human foibles came shining through.
I adored Sam Levinson, not for the eccentricities of his cultural background but because he, too, saw through these differences and gave us universal laughter. Imagine my surprise while doing a little background for this post, when I came across a letter to the Editor from the 1952 edition of Commentary Magazine. In it the reader chastised Levinson for admitting he dabbled in two forms of humor — one for the Jewish public and the other for the uninitiated Gentile. Levinson, he complained, “doesn’t give our Gentile neighbors much credit for insight or intelligence and it’s something of an insult to assume that in their benighted condition they can never hope to plumb the esoteric freemasonry of Jewish humor or art.” (“Commentary,” April 2012 —a reprint of a letter written in 1953 by B. G. Kayfetz)
I found my head nodding in sympathy with the writer of that letter. How sad that Levinson didn’t see how far his vision carried, thus underestimating his talent. I wrote to my friend at once congratulating him on his story but encouraging him to reach out to a wider audience. He should neither underestimate his talent nor make Sam Levinson’s mistake.
Today’s Virtual Tour: Reviews of Gothic Spring
Grace L. @ Books Like Breathing
Sydney Ch. @ A Case of Reading Insomnia