Huh? Producer Behind Comedy Shows ‘Arrested Development,’ ‘Silicon Valley’ Warns: Short Jokes ‘Can Be Antisemitic’

John Levenstein attends 2013 Paley Center For Media Presents: "New York Comedy Festival Oh Hello: Kroll Show" at Paley Center For Media on November 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Twitter remains undefeated as the venue where entertainment industry players overshare and reveal very odd personal foibles.

This Friday, a producer behind famous comedy TV series such as Arrested Development and Silicon Valley illustrated this phenomenon by policing jokes about vertically challenged men — claiming that short jokes can often be a form of antisemitism.

John Levenstein, whose other TV producing credits include Kroll Show, was responding to a tweet making fun of The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, who is obviously photoshopped to look considerably smaller than Prof. Jordan Peterson (for comparison, here is the original).

Levenstein initially responded to the joke with a brusque “Who cares?” Minutes later, he expounded: “I don’t consider all short jokes about men to be anti-Semitic, but it happens often enough that people might consider subjecting themselves to the slightest bit of scrutiny before doing it.”

After several responses calling the antisemitism label “a stretch,” he added that people should at least reflect before making jokes about men’s height.

The Twitter account making fun of Shapiro — the lead singer of Eve 6, a briefly popular turn-of-the-century pop-punk band — offered an olive branch: “i honestly had no idea this was a stereotype i didn’t mean to offend i’m just scared of losing dumb height jokes they’re all i’ve got.”

Arrested Development has poked fun of Asians, Christians, gays, and other groups during its long run on Fox and later Netflix.

HBO’s Silicon Valley made numerous jokes about Asian men, singling out the character played by actor Kumail Nanjiani for supposedly being ugly. Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, recently spoke out against those jokes. “I love everyone on the show, and I never voiced this concern,” Nanjiani told Vulture. “But yeah, parts of that didn’t feel great.”

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