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No joke: Mother-in-law’s suit vs. comic is tossed

JTA

May 5, 2010 | 12:34 pm

A lawsuit against a stand-up comedian for making jokes about the Jewish family she married into was thrown out of court.

Sunda Croonquist, who is half African American and half Swedish, has used her Jewish in-laws, especially her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, as a major source for her material.

Croonquist’s mother-in-law, Ruth Zafrin of Brooklyn, N.Y., and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Neil and Shelley Edelman of New Jersey, filed the case, claiming that Croonquist’s jokes were holding them up to public ridicule.

U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper of New Jersey dismissed the case in a 21-page ruling issued April 30. The judge said the jokes cited in the case were statements of opinion and not fact, and therefore they were protected by the First Amendment, the Associated Press reported.

Croonquist had described her sister-in-law’s voice as sounding like “a cat in heat.” The California-based comic also said that she learned that Jews can whisper when she met her mother-in-law “and I said, ‘It’s such a pleasure meeting you,’ and she said, ‘Have a seat, Eliot put my pocketbook away.’”

Croonquist’s husband, Mark Zafrin, is a partner in the law firm that represented her.

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