Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Non-Jews Telling Jokes

To understand what comedy today reveals about Jews, look at the jokes gentile comedians tell about us

Print Email
From the left: Louis C.K., Eddie Murphy, and Steven Wright. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Related Content

Old Jews Telling More Jokes

The web series ‘Old Jews Telling Jokes’ goes off-Broadway, with shtick, songs, and a script by writer Daniel Okrent

SNL’s Funniest Jew

Where Adam Sandler’s comedy is nuanced and proudly Jewish, Andy Samberg offers one-note assimilation

If old Jews telling jokes is a timeless phenomenon, it’s also one that, at the moment, offers very little insight into either the current state of comedy or the place of Jews within that field. This wasn’t always the case, of course: Jokes told by Jews in the 1940s, in Europe and America, were anything but trivial, and the puns swapped by assimilated fin de siècle Viennese wags assisted Freud in developing his theory of wit.

But I hereby submit that if you want to understand what today’s comedy reveals about Jews, the people to consult aren’t the ones retailing in-jokes to heymishe audiences, but rather our masterful goyishe comedians and the jokes they tell about us.

Jokes about Jews have long served as a crucial inspiration for non-Jewish American comedians, a point that was driven home on a recent episode of Marc Maron’s What the Fuck podcast, the massively popular comedy-world analog of Inside the Actors Studio. The success of Maron’s show itself serves as a reminder of the continued prominence of Jews in American humor; Maron’s semi-narcissistic interview technique involves finding points of personal contact with his subjects. He’s so comfortable asking his guests whether or not they’re ambivalently “Jewy,” as he describes himself, that Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia, teased him a few weeks ago that WTF might be a feeder for Reboot. But it wasn’t in response to Maron’s probing for a Jewish angle that his listeners discovered, back in January of this year, that the first joke Steven Wright ever wrote was a Jewish one.

Wright, the celebrated master of the absurdist, near-monotone one-liner, was raised Catholic outside of Boston, and he explained to Maron that his first comic inspiration came to him while he was toiling away as a snow shoveler, in Aspen, Colo., in 1979. Longer than the typical Wright joke, this one begins with Wright meeting a girl on a bus, who tells him she just got back from seeing her analyst. “ ‘What’s the problem?’ ” he asks. “ ‘Well, I’m a nymphomaniac, and I only get turned on by Jewish cowboys.’ And then she said, ‘By the way, my name’s Diane.’ And I said, ‘Hello, Diane. I’m Bucky Goldstein.’ ”

Wright’s the closest that American stand-up comedy comes to non-referentiality; unlike confessional comics, his archetype-defining routines aren’t really about his parents or girlfriends or kids or jobs or vacations. They’re mostly, simply, about the conventions of language and behavior. He included this joke on his first album, I Have a Pony (1985), where it is the single explicit invocation of religion or ethnicity of any kind (unless you count the bit about renting out a pony, shaved except for its tail, to Hare Krishna family picnics). Which makes it all the more startling that his career began with a line about how a name alone can indicate a person’s Jewishness, and how being Jewish can mean as little as your last name being “Goldstein” instead of “Wright.”


Non-Jewish comedians have always done Jewish material, going back to the days of vaudeville, when plenty of the so-called “Hebrew comedians” were, off-stage, Irish or German. Nothing could have been more natural on the Borsht Belt than a touch of Yiddish, wherever you happened to have come from or which particular house of worship embittered your childhood. Some non-Jews’ Jewish jokes have always been backward-looking, an homage to the history of the field, like Eddie Murphy’s “Old Jew” character. That Murphy bothered to perfect an alter kaker accent demonstrated an awareness of the greats who preceded him and the audiences that supported them.

Another set of Jewish jokes, those that mock the zealous, work equally well for Jewish and non-Jewish comics. The sole difference is that Jewish comics can be meaner-spirited without getting in trouble, like when Moshe Kasher got a laugh on Conan recently for calling hasids “fat Amish bearded penguins.” Wright’s joke, by contrast, requires a non-Jewish comic to tell it: If Wright had been performing under a name like Cohen or Himmelfarb, renaming himself “Bucky Goldstein” would have been half-redundant.

Writing jokes from a goyish perspective isn’t easy, as it relies on what an audience knows about Jewishness. Wright’s joke works, that is to say, because just about all Americans will recognize that “Wright” isn’t a Jewish name, but “Goldstein” is.

Can a comic anticipate the average member of the audience at, say, Zanies in Nashville or Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale knowing anything more than that about Jews? Sure they can. And don’t assume that any of these comedians harbor simplistic understandings of Jewishness either. They don’t. They work in New York and L.A., and they’ve encountered Jews of all kinds. Their job is  to take an audience’s associations and transform them into surprising, laughter-inducing realizations.

Anthony Jeselnik, a young comic who brings a kind of algebraic precision to his joke-writing, includes the following line on his album Shakespeare (2010): “My body is a temple, but only because it hates Palestine.” This wordplay apparently goes over, making clear that Jeselnik’s audiences don’t recognize that Reform Jews—the ones who attend “temples” (and not “synagogues” or “shuls”)—are precisely the ones most likely, of all their American coreligionists, to be left-leaning. What Jeselnik draws upon here, like Wright, isn’t any depth of familiarity on the part of his audiences with what Jews are like or how they live. He exploits two distinct connotations of the word “temple” with the expectation that audiences will re-experience that word with a comedic frisson when “hates Palestine” conjures up the concept of “Jew.”

It’s a little sad that the association of “Jew” and “hates Palestine” recurs reliably enough to draw a laugh out of an audience, but the most skilled stand-up of our time—who happens to be a non-Jew—relies on an even baser connotation for laughs. On his 2010 special Hilarious, Louis C.K. remarks that the word “Jew” is “the only word that is the polite thing to call a group of people and the slur for the same group. … It’s the same word, just with a little stank on it, and it becomes a terrible thing to call a person.” What makes this funny—and C.K. kills with this bit—is hearing him toggle back and forth between the two versions: Jew. Jew. Jew. Jew.

What does an audience member need to know to be able to laugh at this? Only that Jews, like people in every other ethnic group in the United States, are perfectly respectable members of American society and, simultaneously, the targets of irrational hatred. Or, perhaps, they just need to have seen a Holocaust film or two featuring a slimy Nazi gleeful about his effective persecution of the subhuman people he refers to not with some slur, but, with a venomous Teutonic accent, as “dzhews.” Indeed, in an inspired bit from Conan last summer, C.K. imagined the auditions for the role of the little girl in Schindler’s List who screams “Goodbye, Jews!” with so much vitriol.

If non-Jewish Jew jokes suggest that mainstream American comedy audiences have internalized a vision of Jews who are identifiable purely by their names, who are radically hawkish on Israel, and who are targets of hate-speech, well, that’s just how Jews appear, right now, in the funhouse mirror of stand-up comedy. Which isn’t something we need to take seriously, unless it is.


Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Tablet Magazine’s new content in your inbox each morning.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

It’s time to create a new Jewish humor that’s life-affirming, positive When the producers of the off-Broadway play “Old Jews Telling Jokes”were planning their current show, they decided, thank God, not to putin any distasteful Anne Frank jokesor uber-edgy Holocaust jokes.There are, however, still some culturally and politicallyincorrect jokes in the show, some sexist jokes and some annoying andstale Jewishmother jokes, but thankfully no Jewish Princess jokes.
“Old Jews Telling Jokes” began life as a cute and funny video websiteand it still rocks, but as oneNew York critic put it, the off-Broadway live show based on thewebsite “exhausts”. All the jokes are said to becertified kosher, but some of them are denigrating to Jews and sexisttoward Jewish women.

In reaction to all this, I sat down the other day and wrote what Icall “The Silverman Manifesto (2012).”The date is important. It’s not 1950 anymore, and it’s not 1975anymore either. It’s timefor Jewish humor to become more life-affirming and positive. GoodbyeCatskills, goodbye Borscht Belt,goodbye self-loathing. We are a normal people now,successful, we made it. Cut the self-loathing.I have no agenda here, and I am all ears. I am interested inhearing from all points of view on this — even from Mel Brooks, evenfrom Sacha Baron Cohen, even from Sarah Silverman!As I wrote it, ”The Silverman Manifesto (2012)” is an alarm bell, awake up call forJewish writers, comedians, film directors, artists, screenwriters,producers, actors and others to re-examine the state of Jewish humorin 2012 and where it’s headed.When I proposed this idea to an editor, he told me thatit was a good idea but that it needed some work.”How about interviewing some Jewish comedians on thistopic, and perhaps some sociologists and psychologists as well, and write upa report on why some Jews paint false pictures of themselves,” theeditor suggested.First, here’s the Silverman Manifesto:
”Enough of this self loathing and self hating! Enough of Jewsthemselves denigrating themselves in public showsof comedy or books! Enough of dysfunctional familiesand ghetto Jews from the past!”We are now living in 2012and we are no longer dysfunctional people nor do we livein dysfunctional families anymore and Jewish mother jokesand Jewish Princess jokes and distasteful Joan Rivers’ AnneFrank jokes should be thrown out the window.”The Bronx and Brooklynghettoes are things of the past. Wake up, fellow Jews and castoff your self loathing and self hatred with these terrible jokesabout dysfunctional mothers and weak fathers and antisemitic tropesthat are sometimes even worse than Shakespeare’s Merchant of Veniceschtick! Wake up, people!”We are a normal people now, successful, middle-class, no longer in theNew York City ghettoes where much of the old sick humor came from.Sure, in the 1930s, those jokes had a purpose. Sure, in the 1950s,after the war, maybe some of those jokes still had a purpose. But now,in 2012, they have no purpose! Those jokes should be retired and youknow exactly what jokes I am talking about!
”We don’t live in dysfunctional families anymore and we have successstories all around, in an entirely new and loving way. It’s time for Jewsin America to wake up and smell the new air of happiness and life.It’s time to stop the self loathing and self hating Catskills and BorschtBelt jokes of the 1950s and celebrate the joyful reality of 2012.
”Stand up and createa new kind of warm, life enhancing and positive humor that goes beyondthe old stereotypes of yore. Rise up and rejoice, O Jews of America,you have nothing to lose but your long-suffering neuroses.
We are no longer aneurotic people. Stop the Jewish mother jokes, stop the JAP jokes, stopthe sick Anne Frank jokes (and books!), stop the dysfunctional family jokes,stop the victimization. We are no longer victims. We have made it. Wake upand celebrate success, joy, happiness, normalness.
”Enough already. We are normal. We have arrived. Leave the past alone. Whereit belongs. Stop the Jews are cheap jokes; some of the most philanthropicpeople on Earth are American Jews: they build hospitals, museums, fundscientific research, professorships,educational initiatives. Focus on the good and the positive; leave thepast where it belongs: in the past!
”Wake up and smell the sunshine. American Jews must evolve. Be nice,all ye who arecomedians and humorwriters.
”Respect yourselves. Respect what we have become now.”
”Stop the old, out-datedstereotypes. We can write a new chapter in American Jewish history inthe creative artsof comedy and film and literature and it does not have to be ‘Portnoy’sComplaint’ anymore.
Nor does it have to be ‘Old Jews Telling Jokes’ off-Broadway.Mirror the present,stop mirroring the dysfunctional ghetto past. Get past the past!
Embrace the now!”
Okay, maybe I repeated myself a few times here and there, and I was writingfast and can correct the repetitions later on. For now, I just want toget feedback, pro and con. I have no agenda and I have nodog in this fight. I just feel, I just feel, it’s time to move on.

    9Athena says:

    You’re confused (or history deprived)? It was Germany and Austria where the Jews were assimilated in the higher echelons of art, music, science,  philanthropy, public architecture, museums,  elegant salons, the opera houses. universities, literature, the stage-ah, finally, the Jews acheived their highest potential.
    When the oestlanders (the Eastern Jews) arrived from the shtetls the German Jews quickly mobilized passage in steerage for them  from Hamburg to America, Brazil, Argentina-paid in full by philanthropic German Jewish agencies  to get them out of Austria and Germany. 
    German Jews had no intention of demeaning their status.  
    I think you’re saying we now have acheived our  status in the United States.  
    OK. Make sure your passport is current and you have ready access to a nice amount of cash. And I think you want to read a lot of newspapers, international and domestic, and get a subscription to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Please don’t get blindsided that some of our “best” Jews are in high political positions. The head of the prestgious Bank of Warburg even proved his patriotism by joining the SS and wore the uniform. (He got out just in time. He did leave his sister behind).
    You are a beautiful dreamer. But you sleep too much.

      well at least you got ONE THING RIGHT, 9athena, I AM A BEAUTIFUL DREAMER. But Athena, it aint 1933 anymore, it aint 1953 either, it aint
      even 1967….TIME TO GROW UP, Jewy People! Enough of these jokes that belittle our sisters and mothers, and don’t get me started on Joan Rivers telling sick ugly antisemitic ANNE FRANK jokes in her lounge act! Athena, it’s not ME who asleep at the wheel. I am WIDE AWAKE. and Jon Stewart letting Ricky Gervais come on his show and tell antisemitic ANNE FRANK jokes without even saying a word? THAT”s FUNNY? THE Franks hid in an attic for two years because they wanted to get out of paying RENT? said that on national TV in USa, not antisemitic UK, but dear USA and Jon said not one word? Get me rewrite! QUICK!

        9Athena says:

        I think this is a different tack than the one I’m on. You’re rightfully objecting to the tasteless attempts at comedy by various sickos. The same could be said of so-called ‘intellectuals’ who carp about our ‘failures’. My thrust is  ‘haben acht’ or keep all your senses tuned to this upsurge in anti- semitism (not only in the US).  Trying to stem this revived vitriol by responsa, legal repression or rational discussion is futile. The pragmatic response is survival. So it has been, so it is today and probably tomorrow. Why?  Aye, my lad, there’s the meat for the discussion. 

          i grant you, dear 9athena, you bring up a good discussion agenda, so go go go. Yes, we are on different tacks here, i am sailing toward the evolution of Jewish comedy and you are sailing to self-defense in defense of survival in the real world and yes, good points there. But let me do my Silverman Manifesto without tacking into your turf, and my brief is with current state of Jewish comedy by Jewish comedians, be they Zen Cohens or Joan Flush Rivers….

          9Athena says:

          OK. Received and acknowledged. You’re a good man Dan. Just remember about the passport. Don’t want to lose you.

          9athena, thanks. will keep in touch. you too.

          melanie77 says:

          Behave like moral,patriotic American citizens and Jews won’t have to worry if they have pushed it to far and their host country has decided to finally prosecute them for their collective actions, that’s the lesson Jews should have taken from Germany ,not some mythical tale of persecution for no reason.

          melanie77 says:

          maybe jews should become decent,moral citizens in countries that allow them to enter instead of acting as a collective to further their own slimy jew interests and the citizens won.t have to get rid of them every few decades, it’s a thought but you would have to renounce the talmudic teachings first that make jews act like low lives

          9Athena says:

          Ah-that explains the myths during the Assyrian,  Babylonian,  Persian,  Roman,  Parthian,  Aramean,  Spanish, Lithuanian, Russian, Egyptian, Ukranian,and possibly Hurrian Empires. (I omitted a few more because it’s tedious).  After 6000 plus years  your pontification is quite deja vu and deja entendu. ( There are some slight variations of our crimes over the millenia because of the climes and times). FYI the Hurrians are actually 8000 plus years ago. Man made calendars are not guaranteed for accuracy. So now don’t you feel better getting your epiphany off your chest?  Such a clever boy. I’ll try to remember your solution in the next 6000 years.

        melanie77 says:

        anne frank was banging one of the guards

      To be honest, doesn’t the SPLC overdo it a tad? I remember when they were listing the pick-up-artist bloggers as a hate group…

        9Athena says:

        The FBI uses the SPLC as its source to identify hate crimes and murders. The SPLC will act as lawyers (pro bono) in suits against hate groups and/or  members that have commited hate crimes for compensation to victims and/or family. They have been very successful in bankrupting various groups and effectively put them out of business. 
        I don’t know the specifics of your blog, but they are considered a primary resouce for identification and location of the various groups and their targets.  Get a subscription to their magazine. It’s a real eye-opener. Lots of crazies out there.    

      melanie77 says:

      jews never attained a level of culture in germany they were either fleecing germans out of their wealth through destroying the german mark then buying up everything of value for pennies on the dollar,or involved in vice bringing down the moral culture of a great christian society to achieve wealth, or rag peddlers that smelled like dogs and dedicated in the streets.

        9Athena says:

        Delighted you spoke up ‘Melanie’. It should be a real wake up call to the American ideal.Who’s next on your list? American Moslems? Americans of color? Gays? Asians? Latinos? Maybe even Catholics? How lucky you are. In the US the list could be endless.

          melanie77 says:

          muslims,gays,latinos,asians and the others are all decent patriotic americans and none act as a collective to further their own ethnic interests at the expense of their host country, they don’t set up 50-10 ethnic advocacy and political organizations and coordinate with other ethnic organizations throughout europe and elsewhere,only jews live by that kind of collective scheming , aipac and the 5 million american jews who donate to campaigns according to aipac’s directive to all 50 states congressional/senatorial races both deems and repub based on “who’s best for israel” it the most brazen act of treason ever seen in america,and it is what gives aipac its ability to force our elected officials to bow to aipac’s demands. show me one other group that would do such a thing.

          9Athena says:

          Ah. I see you’ve turned your blog over to  someone who might come up with a more palatable format. How many of you are there anyway? Do you all have prepared scripts? These are actually rhetorical questions. ( No response required.)

    surfer_dad says:

    I’d add the silent writers behind so many TV shows to your diatribe too.
    How many smart, normal, Jewish affirming young men have been on TV in the last … say 60 years?

    It seems impossible for an outwardly Jewish character (from Ross Geller to Seinfeld to Howard Walowitz) to feel an attachment to anything other than non-Jewish women and would never be caught dead marrying one.

    Enough already. If these writers feel like the producers won’t buy it, stand up for yourselves!!! 

      thank you surfer dad. i aint finished yet. your comment here gives me more courage to go against the grain and continue making these points i made in the Silverman Manifesto. I am open minded and am all ears and all POV are welcome. I have no agenda. We need to stand up and reform Jewish comedy. What’s wrong with every0ne. STOP making excuses! THe time to reform Jewish comedy is NOw. I will not shut up no matter how many people tell me to shut up. Even Old jews Telling Jokes off broadway show FACEBOOK page has banned me and prevents me from psoting all b ecause i told Dan Okrent that antiseimtiic joke by Joan Rivers about bending down to pick up diamonds did not belong on that FB page, and they banned  me. What’s wrong with Danny Okrent? And i like him!

      melanie77 says:

      on the flip side why do we have to suffer through watching unfunny jewish actors because jews practice tribal nepotism,we are denied the best actors and comedians.

         I don’t know, but why do we have to suffer from anonymous on-line anti-Semitism from people who have no idea what they’re talking about? It’s a shame you couldn’t wait for the government of Sweden to hand you their twitter account–you could get a lot more bang for your buck that way, Mel….

          Marc, Gut gezogt! i been following Mel’s “remarks” all over these pages. He or she really is on a tear, and antisem to the max. ouch!

          by the way, Marc, re the Sweden Twitter Lady account who asked “why do so many people hate the Jews?” i can tell her, and i told her by email. This mass hatred of Jews in Europe and North America, not so much in South America or Africa, and certainly not at all in Buddhist, Shinto parts of Daoist Asia — Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Korea — the reason many people in sick Europe and sick USA hate the Jews is because of Christianity. ANtisemitism and Jew hatred is the result of 2000 years of New Testament preaching which goes on every Sunday even today, with over 100 antisem and anti Jewish comments written into the NT by Christian propandists and this earlier training embeds Antisem and AntiJewish feelings in most of Chrstian world. PERIOD. Not in Asia where i have lived for the past 20 years. Never heard one word of antisemitism here. no Jew Hatred in Asia. Without the POISON of the New Testament Lies, antisem would not exist. :Period. so to solve the issue Some BRAVE Christians must go even furterh than Martin Luther and post a new poster on the door of the Vatican that says REWRITE THE Nuvo Testamente  TODAY!

          ” This mass hatred of Jews in Europe and North America, not so much in South America or Africa, and certainly not at all in Buddhist, Shinto parts of Daoist Asia — Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Korea — ”

          Thats funny, wasnt it Gandhi who suggested that the Jews should practice collective suicide?

          melanie77 says:

          thought you jews would be curious as to how we view your low life behavior and self serving myths that we privately laugh at their implausibility

          oh deer this does sound like anti-schmemsism. Melanie, its not the Jews that are ethnically cleansing the Palestinian-semites its the “Amish” ;) ya big anti-semitic poo-poo face.;p

          Cmon my Jew-niggaz, lets call Melanie names.

          but how can Mel be an anti-semite? she’s not dumping illagal white phosphorous on the Palestinan-semites

          melanie77 says:

          btw the swedish girl was mocking you morons,we already know WHY germans hated jews post ww1 and what jews did to germany from you really think people are unaware of how jews acted as a collective to further jewish interests at the expense of the german people? or did you really think we believe the spielberg narrative of innocent jews persecuted for no reason,lol

          “do you really think people are unaware of how jews acted as a collective to further jewish interests at the expense of the german people? ”

          No, just the majority of people.

          but how can melanie be an anti-semite she’s not ethnically cleansing the Palestinian-semites from their homelands

    Egg Man: life affirming isn’t funny. Positive isn’t funny. We laugh at what’s transgressive, what’s uncomfortable, what otherwise makes us feel ashamed–like little kids laugh about going to the bathroom–because that’s what humor…is. That’s what humor does. For Jews as much as any other group of people, or any individual person.

      marc, i see your point. do you see mine?

         I’m not Marc Tracy, so I don’t see your point….

          Marc, sorry for mixing you up with Marc Tracy, my mistake. You don’t see my POINT re the Silverman Manifesto? What part of it was not clear? you don’t have to agree, i except only 10 percent of readers to agree, with 90 percent disagreeing, par for  the course — FORE! — but which POINTS were not clear? dish!

      Marc i hope you are not Marc Tracy here. are you? say it aint so.

      corey949 says:

      Gut gezogt!

        meaning? pardon my Yiddish, but i don’t know that one. TRANSLATION PLEASE?

          corey949 says:

          Well said.

          so you were saying ”gut gezogt!” re Marc’s comment that”  life affirming isn’t funny” ? or my points in the Silverman Manifesto? I think i already know the answer: you agree with Marc, disagree with me. That’s cool too. All POV welcome here. I am ALL POV man!

          melanie77 says:

          tell me of one jewish comedian who is funny besides woody allen

          robt martin says:

          no one answered you in 8 months? Probably they don’t think you re worth their attention, because it’s such an easy question.
          Peter Sellers
          Howard Stern
          Moe Howard
          Larry Fine
          Gilda Radner
          Jack Benny
          Groucho Marx and his Brothers [also their contemporaries the Ritz brothers]
          Mel Brooks
          Sacha Baron Cohen

          Larry David

          Jerry Seinfeld

          Sarah Silverman

          Lenny Bruce

          Jon Stewart

          Lots more but you aren’t worth more of my attention.

          melanie77 says:

          wow,lol, i’ll tell you something funny i just realized this is a jewish oriented blog! i was wondering why you and others were so pro jew,lol

FYI–Louis C.K.’s Jewish by patralineal descent.

    Josh Lambert says:

    No disrespect intended to C.K.’s Hungarian Jewish grandfather. My sense has been that C.K. doesn’t consider himself to be Jewish. But if he does, hey, I’ll take him. 

      Sheila Brown-Blei says:

       Geeze…I thought they were all Jewish…like I think all talented people are really Jews…does that make me a bad person???
      And gee whiz…if we didn’t have a very strong, evolved sense of humor…who would be funny…really, think about this…we are funny, because it keeps us from crying.

        melanie77 says:

        it’s because comedy clubs,and publicists,agents,hollywood are all jews, thats why we have the same old unfunny crrap year after year


I believe Louie C. K. has one Jewish parent!

If you think Eddie Murphy “perfected” an alte kaker accent, then you have not spent enough time with alte kakers.

    melanie77 says:

    Eddie nailed it,down to the protruding lower lip,sloping forehead ,heavy upper and lower eyelids,and grotesque nose

Natan79 says:

” Which isn’t something we need to take seriously, unless it is.”

This is abominable. God forbid the writer Josh Lambert should ever be wrong, his crown would fall. So he hedges his bets. Hipster writing, wishy-washy and TV addicted. It’s impossible to suspect Josh Lambert ever read a book. But he surely watches TV. 

This article appears to be written by a high-school couch potato chugging beers with his loutish friends while catcalling the cheerleaders of a TV football game. Congratulations to Tablet Magazine for attaining such a high level!

     Natan, I know Josh Lambert. Josh Lambert is a friend of mine. And you’re making a fool of yourself. What you don’t know about him could fill a warehouse. Instead of kvetching about something you know nothing about and insulting people you’ve never met, why don’t YOU read a book for a change? You might even learn something. At least you’d keep your big stupid piehole shut for a while….

Natan79 says:

” Which isn’t something we need to take seriously, unless it is.”

This is abominable. God forbid the writer Josh Lambert should ever be wrong, his crown would fall. So he hedges his bets. Hipster writing, wishy-washy and TV addicted. It’s impossible to suspect Josh Lambert ever read a book. But he surely watches TV. 

This article appears to be written by a high-school couch potato chugging beers with his loutish friends while catcalling the cheerleaders of a TV football game. Congratulations to Tablet Magazine for attaining such a high level!

Natan79 says:

” Which isn’t something we need to take seriously, unless it is.”

This is abominable. God forbid the writer Josh Lambert should ever be wrong, his crown would fall. So he hedges his bets. Hipster writing, wishy-washy and TV addicted. It’s impossible to suspect Josh Lambert ever read a book. But he surely watches TV. 

This article appears to be written by a high-school couch potato chugging beers with his loutish friends while catcalling the cheerleaders of a TV football game. Congratulations to Tablet Magazine for attaining such a high level!

all i can say is i hope Josh and The Tablet will revisit the theme of the Silverman Manifesto 2012 one day  and not a moment too soon. HURRY! ask the experts what they think? and give both sides of the story, air all the issues, don’t take sides, don’t take my side, just dig in and delve and dive deep, Josh. THere is a big story waiting to be written about reforming Jewish comedy in the next 50 years. I’ll be dead so i have no stake in this. SMILE, danny bloom, 1949-2032

melanie77 says:

too bad ,hollywood,comedy clubs,publicists, are all jewish owned, we have to suffer through the same unfunny moronic movies year after year,jewish tribal nepotism is the ruin of industries

    good points!

    4Buffalo2 says:

     Then don’t go. Entertainment is the way it is because people vote with their feet.

     Mel: you are a hateful moron. As obnoxious as you are, there’s something truly pitiable about the fact that you hang out in the blogosphere at a Jewish website, hurling nonsensical insults at people (and “a people”) you don’t even know. What’s worst about this pathetic stunt is the fact that you clearly enjoy the contempt you cultivate. What does it say about you that you experience a cheap thrill when strangers like myself insult you? First, that you don’t distinguish positive attention from negative attention; as long as you get attention, you’re gratified. This is the mark of spoiled children and narcissists. Second, it indicates that when you demean Jews “to their face,” inviting a response in kind, you really desire the hostility of strangers. It’s not that you are so totally lacking in self-esteem that you seek to make yourself feel better by demeaning others. The truth is, you are so totally lacking in self-esteem that you prefer hostility to civility. As much as you hate Jews–if not more so–you really hate yourself. And that really sucks. Laugh that one off, too, sweetheart.

In connection with my THE SILVERMAN MANIFESTO (2012), google for text, Ted Merwin for JEWISH WEEK follows
my line of thinking in his very good review of the off Broadway review titled OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES.
Headline ”’When Humor Stays Below The Belt”, Dr Merwin write, in excerpts here exerpted by me to supprot the SILVERMAN MANIFESTO
points i made two months ago:

1. ”” ”Old Jews” essentially transports its audience “up the mountains” (as my grandmother would say) to the Catskills. In Borscht Belt jokes, Jewish men always felt murderous toward their wives, non-Jewish women were secretly more attractive to Jewish men than Jewish women were, rabbis always offered ridiculous advice, and gentiles occupied a rarefied realm that Jews could never hope to enter. The dated quality of the show is summed up in two of its most inspired routines, which are Susman’s heavily Yiddish-accented, solemn rendering of “Ol’ Man River” and a sing-along with the audience of Tom Lehrer’s “Hanukkah in Santa Monica,” a song about Jews discovering that Jewish life can (big surprise!) actually take root outside of New York.”

2. To compensate for their nagging sense of outsiderness, the show implicitly suggests, Jews turned to humor — in particular, dirty jokes. Either sex or scatology is thus the underlying theme of almost every gag. Jests about masturbating teenagers, blushing brides, under-endowed grooms, priapic desert-island castaways, lascivious old ladies, flaccid old men, aphrodisiac Jewish foods — the sex jokes go on and on. Same with the jokes about bodily functions, which embrace everything from women stuck on toilets to men with prostate and bowel complaints.

3. ”This is where one needs to wonder if the show, despite having plenty of heart, has a soul. A non-Jew who wandered into the theater could be forgiven for thinking that Jews, despite being renowned for their intellectual attainments, are in reality obsessed with their lower bodies. Or that upwardly mobile Jews remain stuck in a low-class or unassimilated Jewish past that they have only transcended on the outside, but still inhabit in some nether region of their deepest selves.”

4. ”I wish that “Old Jews Telling Jokes” ….. didn’t insult its audience’s intelligence quite so much. I’m reminded of Bryan Fogel’s and Sam Wolfson’s phenomenally successful “Jewtopia” (which played at the Westside in 2006), which trotted out every Jewish stereotype and excretory joke in the book, as if paradise for Jews is an eternity on the toilet.

5. ….”. I can’t help comparing “Old Jews” to the second act of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park,” the searing play about race relations that is currently running on Broadway. The characters in that play trade the most sexually explicit and utterly offensive jokes that they can muster, leaving the speechless audience to ponder the profound power of jokes to unsettle and provoke. Perhaps I’m asking too much, but I wish that “Old Jews” afforded some kind of new perspective on the place of humor in Jewish life, rather than yet another guilty peep into the bedroom or bathroom window.”


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Non-Jews Telling Jokes

To understand what comedy today reveals about Jews, look at the jokes gentile comedians tell about us

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.