Speaker: Beth Holmgren
Co-sponsors: REEES, Slavic, Theater Arts
This lecture examines the role of acculturated Jewish comedians in creating high-quality mainstream popular culture in interwar Poland, focusing specifically on cabaret and film star, Kazimierz Krukowski (1901-1984). Between the world wars, Krukowski regularly played a lower middle-class Jewish merchant named Lopek, who quickly became "Warsaw's most beloved Jew" in the city's best, priciest cabarets. Lopek's clever songs, written exclusively by Jewish lyricists and composers, rendered him an ironic, sometimes exasperated commentator on business woes and everyday antisemitism, and soon elevated him to the role of Warsaw everyman. This lecture specifically addresses modern Jewish urban identity, comedy, and its influence in independent Poland (1918-19).