One day, Eric Kaplan’s son’s playdate to the zoo was canceled by his friend’s mother. It was almost Christmas, and the mother, knowing that Kaplan’s son didn’t believe in Santa, didn’t want him bringing up the subject.
Kaplan, a writer for The Big Bang Theory and Futurama, was troubled. “I thought Tammi was sacrificing her son’s friendship with my son, which was real, to preserve his relationship with Santa Claus, who was not,” he writes in his new book, Does Santa Exist? Kaplan, an observant Jew, dissects the idea of how our existential beliefs impact our practical life through mysticism, through magic, and through humor.
There’s a dazzling analysis of the Monty Python cheese shop sketch in which Kaplan asks, why do we establish arbitrary rules and rituals that we know aren’t practical? And he answers the question by explaining that it’s a way of making ourselves happy. If you never believed that explaining a joke can actually make it funnier, Kaplan has the answer for you. And if you never believed that believing in Santa can make you a better Jew, you should check out Kaplan’s book.