Gillota has book published by Rutgers University Press

January 21, 2014
Dr. David Gillota

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Dr. David Gillota’s book “Ethnic Humor in Multiethnic America” has recently been published by Rutgers University Press. Gillota is an assistant professor in the humanities department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He has taught at UW-Platteville since 2008.

In his book, Gillota analyzes ethnic humor in contemporary popular culture using examples from television programs such as “South Park,” movies such as “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” and stand-up comedy such as the comedy used by Dave Chappelle. He examines how people from different ethnic groups use humor as a way to communicate with each other and explores how contemporary humorists are both reflections of and participants in national conversations about race and ethnicity.

The book includes chapters on multiethnic humor, African American humor, Jewish humor, white ethnic humor, corporate multiculturalism in the children’s film and the situation comedy and more.

Michele Elam, author of “The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millenium,” said that Gillota’s book is a “fascinating comparative study of contemporary ethnic humor in popular culture, illuminating the truth that ethnic groups are made and unmade not in isolation, but in dynamic relation to each other.”

“As we all know, there is increasing ethnic diversity in the United States,” said Gillota. “In the book, I investigated the way various humorists have responded to this increased diversity. I wanted to provide a fuller picture about the way that ethnic humor works across the multi-ethnic spectrum.”

“The underlying idea is that the things we find humor in that are related to ethnicity, diversity and multiculturalism tell us something much deeper about ourselves and our society,” continued Gillota. “If we study ethnic humor closely and try to understand why we laugh at certain things, we can learn more about the way we think about race and ethnicity. Humor can tell us how we feel about things as a culture. It can be used as a way to stimulate conversation about ethnic issues that some people may be uncomfortable talking about.”

Gillota said he first became interested in humor as an academic topic through works by American novelists Philip Roth and Thomas Pynchon and eventually included them in his dissertation with filmmaker Woody Allen and author Charles Johnson.

Gillota includes a mixture of popular culture and traditional ethnic readings in the courses he teaches. He said that he wants students to think in more complex ways about the world around them and understand that there is more happening in their entertainment choices than they may realize.

Gillota has published essays on American humor in the “Journal of Popular Film and Television” and “Journal of Popular Culture.” An article he recently wrote, “Black Nerds: New Direction in African American Humor,” will soon be published in “Studies in American Humor,” the journal of the American Humor Studies Association.

Contact: Dr. David Gillota, department of humanities, (608) 342-1928,
Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191,


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