It’s nasty work, but someone must comment on Eli Reiter’s misguided essay about Larry David’s send-up of Bernie Sanders on “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”) (Exit Ramp, “Retiring Larry David’s Bernie just in time,” May 7).
Reiter writes, “In David’s hands (and mouth), Sanders is merely ‘The Jew’ — the old, wild-haired, difficult germaphobe who has big ears and says ‘oy’ every third sentence.” What are you talking about? Clearly, this is your vision of “The Jew,” not David’s. I have seen his Sanders impersonation many times and it never occurred to me that he was portraying Jewish stereotypes. Nor have I heard that observation from anyone else. Instead, what we see is a dead-on characterization of Sanders with a few exaggerations in keeping with the essence of satire — not a stereotype of “The Jew.”
The idea that Reiter would shlep Nazi iconography, the Aalst parades, and cultural genocide into an “SNL” skit is laughable. And, wanting to “shelve” Jewish stereotypes is a cruel disservice to his own people. Jewish writers and comedians have a long and glorious history of finding humor in their culture. Woody Allen, Jackie Mason, Neil Simon, Joan Rivers, Mel Brooks, Fran Drescher, Lewis Black … shall I go on? Reiter would deprive the world of these and other artists because he has an issue with Jewish stereotypes.
Larry David is imitating Sanders, not Jewish stereotypes. If that is a problem I have a suggestion: Contact Sanders and ask him to refrain from acting like such a Jew. Problem solved.