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Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy$
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Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295049

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295049.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 January 2022

Masculine Gender Identity in Jack Benny’s Humor

Masculine Gender Identity in Jack Benny’s Humor

Chapter:
(p.86) Three Masculine Gender Identity in Jack Benny’s Humor
Source:
Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy
Author(s):

Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520295049.003.0004

Jack Benny’s comedy frequently upended the idea of heterosexual white masculine domination. Jack was portrayed as a struggling employer and a failure as a patriarch whose radio cast constantly get the better of him. The long-lasting comic feud with fellow radio comic Fred Allen demonstrated a playful camaraderie through insult-throwing. As a second-generation immigrant, Benny’s Midwestern Jewish identity seemed much assimilated, although his humorous themes were deeply rooted in Jewish traditions. Benny greatly enjoyed blurring the sharp divides between masculine and feminine presentation, and his role in the cross-dressing farce Charley’s Aunt, the occasional risqué humor of his radio shows, and his uncannily close imitations of Gracie Allen, discomfited an American culture becoming increasingly anxious about rules of gender identity.

Keywords:   gender, sexuality, masculinity, Jewishness, crossdressing, censorship, scandal

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