Jena Friedman is one of those comic talents who fly under the public radar, despite having an impressive resume in the industry. She was a writer for the “Late Show with David Letterman” and producer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and she has appeared in clips on channels ranging from MSNBC to National Geographic.
But her profile could be on the rise. She developed a special for Adult Swim (Cartoon Network’s adult-oriented nighttime programming block) that is set to debut this Sunday, and since last Thursday, her name has floated through the internet in the wake of a standup set she performed on Conan O’Brien’s late-night comedy show.
Friedman, 35, who was raised in a Conservative Jewish home in New Jersey, where she had a bat mitzvah and went to Hebrew school through 10th grade, focused mainly on two subjects in her set: misogyny and neo-Nazis.
A couple of minutes into the set, she argues that while it’s tough to be a woman right now, neo-Nazis are having “a great year.”
“You can tell how far we’ve slipped as a country in just the past year by how it’s no longer ok to joke about Nazis,” she said. “It’s no long kosher … I feel bad for World War II vets who couldn’t talk politics at the Thanksgiving table because their grandkids are Nazis. It’s like ‘Grandpa, don’t talk about liberating Auschwitz, you’ll upset Trevor!’”
Friedman also skewered David Duke, the anti-Semitic former Ku Klux Klan leader.
“He’s very hard to spot with all the plastic surgery he’s had. You’d think for a white supremacist he’d be more comfortable in his own skin,” she said.
Friedman ends the set by suggesting that one way to humiliate a Nazi is to subject him to the kinds of harassment women face on a daily basis.
“If we in America treat Nazis the way we treat women, at the very least, they will never become president,” she said.