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Comedian  Sunda Croonquist thinks her in-laws are funny, and has told her audiences so, both on television and in clubs. Croonquist, a half-black, half-Swedish woman who was raised Roman Catholic, educated in New Jersey parochial schools, and who converted to Judaism before marrying her Jewish husband, has been sued for defamation by her mother-in-law, Ruth Zafrin, and her sister-in-law, Shelly Edelman, and Shelley’s husband, Neil, because of the many occasions on television and in clubs in which Croonquist has caricatured them as part of her routine. For interested readers, here is a video of that routine.

Croonquist has agreed to drop the in-law portion of her routine, but refuses to pay the monetary damages sought by her in-laws. Croonquist’s husband supports her decisions. Croonquist’s attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit; that motion is pending.

For the rest of us, in-law relationships usually don’t lead to litigation, but they are frequently fraught with mixed emotions. We try to like our in-laws; we may in fact like them; however, we are usually wary of them, if for no reason other than that we know that our spouse has an uneasy or problematic relationship with his or her parents. We know that we always want a good relationship with our spouse; but whether we have a good relationship with our in-laws depends upon many things, including most importantly our spouse’s feelings at the moment about his or her parents.

Inside In-Laws