David Rakoff, humorist of pessimism and Jewishness

by | Aug 16, 2012 | Obituaries

David Rakoff, a humorist who often wrote about American Jewish culture, has died.

Rakoff, 47, died August 9 in Manhattan of cancer, a disease he has battled since he was 22, according to media reports.

A frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s This American Life, Rakoff, a Montreal native, embraced his misfortunes with a cheerful negativity.

A book of his essays was named Half Empty.

“Optimism is not for everybody,” he told Tablet magazine in a 2010 podcast. “There are a lot of people who are simply going to feel anxious no matter what, it predates consciousness almost, it’s pre-verbal, it’s the way you are and ultimately it’s as value neutral as having brown eyes.”

He wrote in a 2006 Tablet blog chronicling his attendance at virtually every film in a Woody Allen film festival of his delight in his discovery of a shared identity with Alvy Singer, the Allen doppleganger in Annie Hall.