It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but comedian Sunda Croonquist’s mother-in-law Ruth Zafrin was not kidding when she filed a lawsuit against Sunda for telling so many jokes about her. Croonquist capitalizes on their ethnic differences in her envelope-pushing jokes — she is half-black and half-Swedish, was raised Catholic, and married into a Jewish family.
A typical joke goes something like this. On a first visit to her mother-in-law Ruthie’s house, Croonquist says, "I walk in, I say, 'Thank you so much for having me here, Ruthie.' 'The pleasure’s all mine,' she replies, 'have a seat.' Then she whispers, 'Harriet, put my pocketbook away.'"
Zafrin filed the lawsuit (along with her daughter and her daughter's husband), when material on Croonquist's website made it easy for people to figure out the in-laws' identities. Croonquist is accused of "spreading false, defamatory and racist lies" in comedy club routines that have even been aired on Comedy Central. Croonquist agreed to remove any offensive comments on her website but refused to pay a settlement. (Her husband's law firm is handling her case. Awkward!)
Zafrin isn't exactly giving mother-in-laws a good name. It seems that there would've been a less alienating way of handling this, like, say, asking Croonquist to cut it out! Who do you think is in the wrong?