The Jersey Joke: Its Long and Complicated History

New Jersey has long been the whipping boy of New York City and suffered from something of an inferiority complex. Rarely has a Saturday Night Live episode or a Woody Allen movie spared New Jersey. But, ironically, beginning in 1975, when Bruce Springsteen appeared simultaneously on the covers of both “Time” and “Newsweek” magazines and continuing with the fame “The Sopranos” brought to New Jersey (ironically, positive rather than negative) New Jersey has been enjoying something of a renaissance and the Jersey joke has been in decline. Indeed, given the realization that New Jersey has been a veritable engine of inventive and artistic prominence (Edison and Einstein in the first instance, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, and Frank Sinatra in the second) it has, lately become “cool” to be from New Jersey.

Michael Aaron Rockland, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of American Studies, Rutgers University

Program generally available in Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren counties; other counties are available with speaker’s consideration. Este programa está disponible en español.

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