When tradition twists with popular culture and lands on “people’s oral humor,” idealistic Reuben Lamberth finds himself in a mess. He is a young, progressive, inspired scholar teaching at a prestigious northeastern university, but his other unique self has another foot planted secretly in the world of standup comedy as Josh Sandburg. His stage name is a composite of ‘joshing’ and the renowned American poet Carl Sandburg.
Neither his fully tenured professor wife Byrra who is enmeshed in a cabal of women’s faculty; his tough minor gangster-hood father Solly; his staid sociology chairperson and conventional colleagues; nor his tyrannical University President Jeremiah Brittle have any idea that he performs in comedy clubs as Josh Sandburg.
Should he be outed, there is considerable doubt that he will be upgraded to the coveted position of tenure, and his marriage may suffer as well. Reuben wonders, Is it worth giving up academia and taking a flyer in the world of comedy culture? The finale in this novel reveals tantalizing internecine connections that land squarely the realm of people’s oral humor.
Reviews for the Book
As a retired academic, one generation removed from the mob(s)—first Jewish then Italian—I thoroughly enjoyed the ground this book covered. With grace and humor and empathy for all. To some literary types, it might be considered a “small book” but for me and my generation of assimilated and retired Americans it’s what made America truly great. After us, is the question? - X
About the Author: J.J. Boskin
J. J. Boskin is an emeritus professor of American Social & Ethnic History at Boston University. Overall, his focus has been on the origins of slavery, racial stigmatizing, urban revolts, people’s humor and tipping points in history.
His works include Seasons of Rebellion: Protest and Radicalism in Recent America (Co-author & Editor, 1972); Urban Racial Violence in the Twentieth Century (Author & Editor, 1969, 1976); Into Slavery: Racial Decisions in the Virginia Colony (1977); Sambo: The Rise and Demise of an American Jester (1986); Rebellious Laughter: People’s Humor in American Culture (1997); The Humor Prism in Twentieth Century America (Author & Editor, 1997). His most recent book is Corporal Boskin’s Cold Cold War: A Comical Journey (2011), a narrative of his U.S. Army role as the Historian of a top secret, scientific expeditionary outfit posted in northern Greenland during the Korean War.