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Gentile Jokes:

Today's David Post post reminds me of two Gentile jokes I heard a while back. They mostly make sense when said by Jews to a Jewish audience, but I figure enough of our readers are either Jewish or Jew-savvy enough.

  1. A Gentile is in a clothing store. "How much for that jacket?," he asks. "$500," the salesman says. "OK, I'll take it," the Gentile says.

  2. A Gentile calls his mother": "Mother, I know I was supposed to be coming for dinner tonight, but this girl I'm interested in is free tonight and I'd like to get together with her instead." "OK, have a nice time!," says the mother.

For those who aren't Jew-savvy enough, the gag is that these are actually jokes about Jews, not about Gentiles.

Michaelg (mail):
Yikes, sorry about the triple trackback.

Michael Greenspan
2.28.2006 1:27am
llamasex (mail) (www):
I came up with anti-racist jokes a while back. See some people whom I disagree with think telling a joke which plays on stereotypes reinforces those stereotypes. So my jokes exist to undo the harm I have done by telling racist jokes.

For example:

A black guy and a Mexican are riding in a car, who is driving? The Chauffeur.

What do you call a Black guy surrounded by 26 white guys? Professor.

I hadn't come up with any Jewish ones, but they should be simple to think up
2.28.2006 1:30am
John Armstrong (mail):
Reminds me of tonight's Colbert Report Special Report.
2.28.2006 1:41am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Two Gentiles meet on the street. The first one says,
"You own your own business, don't you? How's it going?"
The other Gentile says; "Just great! Thanks for asking!"

********************

Two Gentile mothers meet on the street and start talking about children.

Gentile mother 1 (said with pride): "My son is a construction worker!"
Gentile mother 2 (said with more pride): "My son is a truck driver!"

****************

A Gentile couple goes to a nice restaurant:
The man says: "I'll have the steak and a baked potato", and my wife will have the Julienne salad with house dressing. We'll both have coffee."
The waiter says: "How would you like your steak and salad prepared?" The man says "I'd like the steak medium......the salad is fine as is."
The waiter says: " Thank you."

***********************

A Gentile man calls his elderly mother.
He asks, " Mom, how are you feeling? Do you need anything?"
She says, "I'm feeling fine, and I don't need anything. Thanks for calling."
2.28.2006 1:45am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Llamasex: I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your good intentions. But tell me: Are the jokes funny?
2.28.2006 1:52am
Fishbane (mail):
Are the jokes funny?

That sounds like a content specific test to me.
2.28.2006 2:38am
stranger from a strange land far away (mail):
Perhaps the true gag is that the jokes are definitely unfunny? So this amounts to something my fellow Austrians might call an 'Ueber-Schmaeh' (meta-joke)?
2.28.2006 6:02am
Huggy (mail):
Tey're as funny as:
Take my wife...please.
2.28.2006 7:33am
countertop (mail):
Of course, one of the early observations I made growing up in a Northern New Jersey neighborhood equal parts jewish and equal parts italian is that there really isn't much of a difference between the two cultures.

Sure, jews go to temple on Saturday, not church on Sunday, and some have funny rules about the food they eat (though no funnier than the fish on Friday deal) but in both of those jokes, the gag could also be true of your average Italian. Heck, I would imagine the jokes hold true for any subculture originating in the Mediterranean.
2.28.2006 7:47am
Six of One (mail):
Robt. Schwartz' jokes were so funny I ....
2.28.2006 8:06am
Cornellian (mail):
This Protestant is completely mystified, no idea what those jokes are getting at.
2.28.2006 8:22am
DrewSil (mail):
On the lamasex jokes, actually I find them very funny. I've always liked jokes that play upon your expectations. Of course many(most) people find such jokes to be awful, and perversley the better I find the joke the worse others think it is. So its a matter of taste.
2.28.2006 8:27am
Eric Muller (www):
Cornellian, the jokes are poking fun at the various stereotypical neuroses of Jews. (I say this, incidentally, as a stereotypically neurotic Jew.) The jokes are funny to Jews because the stereotyped Gentiles in them are acting so, well ... normal, compared to the way a stereotypical Jew would behave in the same situation.
2.28.2006 8:38am
Eric Muller (www):
I take that back, partially. Eugene's first joke, as I read it, is really a dig at Gentiles. What's being noted is that a Jew would never think of paying the ticket price for a jacket in a retail store without first trying to "hondle" (that is, bargain).

But the undercurrent to these sorts of jokes is actually derogatory to non-Jews: the idea is that they are gullible and easily taken advantage of.

So of Eugene's two jokes, I think only the second is poking fun at Jews. The first mostly pokes fun at Gentiles.
2.28.2006 8:40am
Steve:
A Gentile man calls his elderly mother.
He asks, " Mom, how are you feeling? Do you need anything?"
She says, "I'm feeling fine, and I don't need anything. Thanks for calling."


This one really cracked me up.
2.28.2006 8:41am
Eric Muller (www):
Now here's a joke that pokes fun just at Jews.

Today we'll be debatin a basic problem of Jewish business ethics. Here's the situation: You are behind the counter of your little dry goods store. A woman comes in to buy an item that costs $8.50. She hands you a ten dollar bill, you open the cash drawer, and you give her back her $1.50 in change. As she turns to walk out, though, you see that what she actually gave you was a one hundred dollar bill, not a ten.

The ethical question: Do you tell your partner?
2.28.2006 8:46am
Craig Oren (mail):
I've heard Eric's story, but without any Jews in it,e.g., as an illustration of what ethics are. It's funnier without the Jews.
2.28.2006 8:54am
Nicole Black (mail) (www):
Don't feel bad, Cornellius. I'm Jewish, and I'm having a hard time "getting it" as well.

I suppose they're funny because that's not how it'd go w/ a Jew. In other words, the conversation would not have ended as it did in all the "jokes." But, c'mon, it's not exactly knee-slapping stuff--is it?
2.28.2006 9:03am
Eric Muller (www):
A true "Jewish mother" story: I went to high school with a guy who was involved in an armed robbery a few years after we graduated. He was the "inside man" at the store that was robbed. He was convicted and sent off to the state penitentiary for 5 years or so.

A few years into his prison term, my mom bumped into his mom in the grocery store. My mom asked, a bit uncomfortably, how her son was doing. "Great," said my friend's mom. "In fact, he was just elected president of his cell block."

I kid you not. This really happened.
2.28.2006 9:04am
Six of One (mail):
"But the undercurrent to these sorts of jokes is actually derogatory to non-Jews: the idea is that they are gullible and easily taken advantage of. "

Most self deprecating Jewish jokes have such an undercurrent. Jews can never let themselves just be "part of the group". They always have to be outside, usually in a superior position.

That's why the "make a funny Jewish joke" is only open to Jews, and serious discourse regarding Israel, if uncomplimentary, is dismissed as anti-Semitism.

Really, I think you all would have more fun being a part of the group, no better no less, but you'd have to let go of the "I'm special" leanings.

Anyway, thanks for the attempt, but maybe keep your Jewish jokes in your own circles away from the goy? We get it; you're different from us.
2.28.2006 9:05am
pettyfog (www):
Well....
As they were laid out as Jewish jokes, I thought I got 'em... but then the post comment about them being about jews, not gentiles, threw me; now I'm not so sure.

1. Joke due to 'no haggle'

2. If that were a Jewish mother?!!!!

If I'm wrong... I blame it all on the Stiller Comedian family.
2.28.2006 9:09am
pettyfog (www):
And, by the way, Six of One... get a life!
2.28.2006 9:11am
Scott Moss (mail) (www):
Actually, I understood the first joke to be implying that it would be ridiculous to bargain over the sticker price of a jacket, but we Jews might do that anyway. The "joke" of both jokes (the jacket one and the mom one) is that we're telling a story of "Gentiles" doing 100% normal things (buying a jacket without arguing about the sticker price; cancelling plans with mom without getting a hard time for it) as if it's odd to us Jews.

I suppose that if one normally bargained over the price of a jacket, then the first joke could be interpreted as, "we Jews know to bargain." Having never paid more than $300 for any jacket, suit, or other article of clothing, I have no idea what sort of bargaining might ordinarily ensue at the sort of establishents selling $500 jackets.
2.28.2006 9:13am
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
In regards to differences between Jews and Italians, one joke I heard is this:

The difference between a Jewish mother and an Italian mother is that an Italian mother says, "Eat your vegetables or I will kill you." A Jewish mother, on the other hand, says, "Eat your vegetables or I will kill myself."
2.28.2006 9:28am
Jeremy (mail) (www):
Like oil and water, law professors and comedy seem not to mix. ;-)
2.28.2006 9:37am
Ivan (mail) (www):
It's nice to see no one's risen to Six of One's bait. You're better people than I am. But I suppose the best response possible is amusement that, in an Anglo-European culture that systematically excluded, separated, proselytized, demonized and occasionally attempted to exterminate Jews, we are now getting a guilt trip for not being part of the crowd--not that pressure to assimilate is a new thing either, it just used to be accompanied by all of the above for those who resisted.

Lucky we're used to such things by now--particularly the guilt trips. Thanks for reminding us, Six of One, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
2.28.2006 9:53am
Raw_Data (mail):
It's comical in itself and naive to think that a "joke" which empahsizes an unpleasant trait -- being cheap and stingy or cheating both a customer and a partner -- is somehow complimentary to Jews (or anyone.)

Now there are some riffs which poke fun and are also funny, such as the one about two Jews discussing something abd coming up with three opinions. But most things which "poke" have an edge.

Most of these "jokes" play up a purported and negative stereotype. Why is it somehow "funny" that Jews are indeed often neurotic? Might one not be slightly neurotic after two thousand years of bullshit from Christians and Moslems? Of course I never did get Woody Allen -- I thought he lacked self-awareness.
2.28.2006 10:03am
Six of One (mail):
"But I suppose the best response possible is amusement that, in an Anglo-European culture that systematically excluded, separated, proselytized, demonized and occasionally attempted to exterminate Jews..."

Now that reminds me of the Chris Rock joke, a throwaway comment to Jerry Seinfeld who was kvetching in a similar manner -- "You're back."

Google it; true joke. You can't be both the underdog and the mighty powerwielding country you yearn to be. Shake the shackles and come joing the group. You're in these days.
2.28.2006 10:08am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Six of One,

When you make a comment like that, you kind of effectively end the conversation, because I can't even respond to you substantively or I'm at risk of sounding like a racist too.

Anyway, if you have a beef with ethnic jokes, you might try a lighter touch. Personally, as a Protestant myself (if in name only), I'm quite interested to be privy to the jokes that we normally don't hear.

After all, you may think they should keep their jokes to themselves, but most people would probably say you should have kept your own comment to yourself...
2.28.2006 10:15am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
(This was in reponse to your first comment).
2.28.2006 10:24am
Houston Lawyer:
The most insightful comedy about any group usually comes from within the group. It's cliche today to see Blacks make fun of other Blacks, etc. Jews have been doing this for so long that most gentiles readily understand the inside jokes.

I'm waiting for the moment when it becomes Ok for people outside the group to poke fun at a group again. I can tell from this string that we are a long way away from that.
2.28.2006 10:28am
M. E. Lopez:
(winces)

Humor is such a subjective thing.
2.28.2006 10:39am
Six of One (mail):
"Anyway, if you have a beef with ethnic jokes, you might try a lighter touch. Personally, as a Protestant myself (if in name only), I'm quite interested to be privy to the jokes that we normally don't hear.

After all, you may think they should keep their jokes to themselves, but most people would probably say you should have kept your own comment to yourself..."

Oh lighten up Marcus!

Do you think I seriously want "them" to keep "their" jokes to themselves? Humor enlightens. My comments were meant to be inclusionary: come join us. Your daughters might like the freedom of driving a truck cross-country; some of your hardier sons might like to work construction and build things with their hands and bodies.

"We get it; you're different from us." There's usually a kernel of truth found in humor. This is what I found here, in these jokes.

Finally, why is it that you tell me to shush up when you don't like to hear what I say? Can't you take a different opinion, or can you only take it when it comes from "them"?

Truth be told, united people have more fun when they don't think in "them" and "us" terms. That's why something like sex is such a universal joke. Get it?
2.28.2006 11:06am
Avner (mail):
Eric Muller,

No, I always hated that type of joke. I have done business for ages and I find that jews are as likely to be honest businessmen as others.

Sorry, but the rich/stingy jewish thing has always rubbed me the wrong way. (there is nothing stingey about buying on sale.)
2.28.2006 11:26am
AV:
Houston Lawyer: One recent (excellent) example is Mel Brook's "The Producers" which managed to poke fun at Jews, old people, gays, nazis, Germans, blacks, and Broadway insiders, not to mention stereotype Swedes and accountants. The show managed to win a record number of Tonys as well as a pretty good box office return. I think that like you, many people just want comedy to be comedy again: an equal opportunity offender.

I used to date a (hypersensitive) Jew, but he did share one Jewish joke with me:
Q: How many Jewish mothers are needed to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. I'll just sit quietly in the dark.
2.28.2006 11:34am
Avner (mail):
There really are a lot of similarities between jewish and Italian families. I used to describe there as being only two differences: Jesus Christ and Veal parmigiane.

Avner
2.28.2006 11:34am
Captain Holly (mail) (www):
Oh, fer cryin' out loud, people, these are just jokes. Stop trying to find some deep, sinister meaning to them.

I'm Mormon and I got the Jewish mother jokes right off, partly because I've met some Mormon mothers who share the same characteristics. Humans tend to react the same way to the same situations, regardless of their different backgrounds.
2.28.2006 11:35am
ralph.m (mail):
I've been wondering this for a while: what is the best theory to explain why Jews have been so hated throughout history?
2.28.2006 11:42am
M. Python:
Wenn ist das Nunstruck git und Slotermeyer? Ja!...
Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!
2.28.2006 11:53am
Steve:
in an Anglo-European culture that systematically excluded, separated, proselytized, demonized and occasionally attempted to exterminate Jews, we are now getting a guilt trip for not being part of the crowd--not that pressure to assimilate is a new thing either, it just used to be accompanied by all of the above for those who resisted.

You are missing the point. The reason why people point to the supposed desire of Jews to set themselves apart is because they want to use it as an excuse for feeling differently about Jews or acting differently towards them. "Well, of course I treat them different - they treat me like I'm different!"
2.28.2006 11:54am
Avner (mail):
Ralph,

wow, big question. maybe try a book by Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin "Why the Jews?".

Their thesis is that it is twofold. One source is hating the "other", because by virtue of our beliefs we have always had to be a little bit different than those around us. We eat differently, dress sometimes differently, and we pray on a different sabbath. In Ancient times we were the only ones who had only one god.

Combine that with the relative success the jews have always had in whichever society they lived. There might be many reasons for this. jews valued literacy and education before many other societies did. And for a group that was not allowed to own land or work the land, crafts/professions/education/literacy/trade is the only thing left. Also, there might be a factor that since it was hard to live as the ostracized group, the only ones who survived unassimilated and unconverted were the stronger and more successful ones. After all, there are only about as many jews today as there were during Roman times despite the growth of the rest of the worlds population.
2.28.2006 11:56am
Cyrus (www):
Ralph M, I think it's for the same reason that blacks have been hated throughout history, and the same reason that in Ireland, where there aren't many blacks or jews, catholics and protestants hate each other.

For better or for worse, humans have a need to divide people up into groups of us vs. them. North vs. South, city vs. country, born American vs. immigrant.

Religion is about as quick and easy a way as any to decide who is part of "them". Why people have been so willing to kill jews, but not necessarily southerners or immigrants? That I don't know. Maybe it's because we killed Jesus or something.
2.28.2006 12:03pm
Eric Muller (www):
The Python joke had me laughing out loud.

Fortunately, I did not die.
2.28.2006 12:08pm
CJColucci (mail):
For mainstream television comedic purposes, Jews and Italians were often interchangeable, especially if female characters were involved. The Italian/Jewish character was usually set against a WASP: dark, loud, brassy, shoveling enormous amounts of long-simmering, strongly-flavored exotic food on troublesome children and henpecked husbands. (Think Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard in the Mothers-in-Law: Ballard could have been Jewish as easily as Italian if the network honchos had thought Jews would sell in the heartland. I think Howard Cosell had a lot to do with the increase in explicitly Jewish characters on TV.) Although as one of the posters pointed out, the Italian mother would threaten to kill you and the Jewish mother would threaten to kill herself, these were subtleties beyond the requirements of mainstream TV comedy. Jews and Italians were interchangeable parts.
2.28.2006 12:12pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
One more for the road.
Q: What is a Jewish sweater?
A: It's a sweater a Jewish mother puts on her son when she's cold.
2.28.2006 12:16pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Eric: I think the first joke does poke fun at Jews, not Gentiles. At least these days, buying full price at a department store is hardly evidence of being easily swindled; it's more or less the social norm, and while I've never bargained over clothes in a department store (shows what kind of Jew I am!), I suspect it won't do you much good. The joke is about how the stereotypical Jew would find failure to bargain ridiculous, not about how failure to bargain is indeed ridiculous.
2.28.2006 12:24pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
Many, many years ago, Playboy had some WASP jokes (I, of course, read it for the jokes, the same way most guys do for the short stories). I remember two:

Q. What do you call a WASP girl who makes love once a year?
A. A nymphomaniac.


Q. If there's one WASP at an orgy, how do you tell who he is?
A. He's the one washing the grapes.

I'm a Polish-surnamed Catholic myself. I enjoy Catholic jokes, but not Polish jokes, perhaps because the "point" of every Polish joke that I've heard is that Poles are stupid.
2.28.2006 12:56pm
e:
Steve:

The reason why people point to the supposed desire of Jews to set themselves apart is because they want to use it as an excuse for feeling differently about Jews or acting differently towards them. "Well, of course I treat them different - they treat me like I'm different!"

I appreciate the humour, but also agree with Six's comments. I do not think he is being racist at all, simply pointing out that we might all be better off in this country if we self-identified as Americans or humans rather than Jewish-Americans or African-Americans.
2.28.2006 1:19pm
e:
And mothers as martyrs certainly cross all of cultural boundaries.
2.28.2006 1:23pm
JohnG:
Not being Jewish, can I ask if there is any connection between the substantive content of this discussion and the activity in Israel to beat the Iranians by coming up with "better" anti-semitic cartoons? What's the unspoken similarity between the two endeavors?

John
2.28.2006 1:38pm
R:
Silicon:

I don't get the second WASP joke. I'm missing the stereotype it plays on. If it means WASP as opposed to Jew, you'd think it'd be the Jew who was obsessing over cleanliness rather than partaking in the fun of the orgy… unless I'm just hanging with the wrong Jews.
2.28.2006 1:50pm
Passing By:
Contrary to what Six of One seems to think, Jewish humor is not dependent upon status as a victim or outsider. To the extent that it acknowledges a cultural identity, how could you have any sort of ethnic humor (of the polite or impolite kind) without acknowledging ethnic differences?

An Israeli humorist, commenting on the cartoon issue and the "contest" John just mentioned, was asked to explain the difference between Jewish humor and other types of humor. After a short textbook explanation, without missing a beat he added, "You in America are very familiar with Jewish humor, of course, because we control your media and your entertainment industry." Now I'll grant that there are probably a few nutters out there who don't get the joke, but I thought it was a good one.
2.28.2006 2:03pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
JohnG: The connection is just a free association connection. David posts something about anti-Semitic jokes. A commenter notes how much of Jews' own humor pokes fun at Jews (which is probably true as to many other ethnicities, too). I was reminded of the Gentile jokes. That's all there is to it.
2.28.2006 2:04pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Eugene,

$500 for a coat? Crimeny. My impression of the joke was that a gentile will buy something expensive simply because it is expensive, because the whole point is just to have an expensive coat. Whereas a Jew would always insist on a bargain.

Six of One,

Personally, my suspicion was not that you are anti-semitic in any nefarious kind of way. Your comment didn't come across as light-hearted, though. Two other people, you'll notice, clearly thought that you're a crank.

I didn't want you to hush up either. I thought you brought up an interesting issue, but unfortunately you did it in a way that made you look like a racist, which tends to hamper discussion. If your attempt was to make an appeal to Jews to feel welcome in Christian culture, then IMHO, you missed the mark.

E,

I don't mind that people identify as Jewish-Americans or African Americans. I imagine there's something rather comforting in belonging to a group without having to do anything or having to agree about anything, which tends to get complicated. I do find it unfair, though, that white people generally, because of their group success, are considered racists for having the same sympathies that I believe are actually more common in minority races than they are in whites.

I also find it annoying that the only people who express this view are right wingers whom I can't stand.
2.28.2006 2:41pm
Bleepless (mail):
Two elderly Jews toddle up to a park bench, sit down laboriously and lean on their canes. Half an hour of dead silence passes. Then one of them says, "Oy." Another half hour of silence goes by, and he again says, "Oy." Yet another half hour of silence ensues, and yet again he says, "Oy," at which point the other man says, "If you're going to talk politics all day, I'm leaving."
2.28.2006 2:51pm
Cheburashka (mail):
I've been wondering this for a while: what is the best theory to explain why Jews have been so hated throughout history?

I think it has something to do with that whole Jesus thing. Just a guess...
2.28.2006 3:12pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Two old jews, Moshe and Eshe, are driving around one weekend looking for something to do, just bored.

They pass by a church, with a sign outside that says "Conversions - We pay $100." So Moshe says to Eshe, "why don't you go in, you get converted, it won't mean anything, you'll still be a Jew, but we'll get the $100 and go to the movies.

So Eshe says "OK," goes into the church.

An hour goes by, and Moshe is getting pretty bored sitting in the car.

Another hour, and Moshe's starting to get annoyed.

A third hour, and Moshe says "that's it, I'm giving him ten more minutes then he can drive himself home."

A few minutes later, Eshe comes out of the church, gets in the car silently, and they drive off.

Annoyed at his friend's lack of regard, Moshe asks "What the hell took you so long? Did you at least get the hundred dollars?"

"You people are all alike," Eshe replies.
2.28.2006 3:15pm
Humphrey Bogus (mail):
2.28.2006 3:16pm
tefta (mail):
A classic New York genre joke ala Jackie Mason:

I got a cousin -- half Jewish -- half Italian. If he can't get it wholesale -- he steals it.
2.28.2006 3:22pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
R: I don't think that the joke had anything to do with Jews. I suspect that it had to do with a perception that WASPs were unduly concerned with sanitation. I'm not surprised that you didn't get it; I don't think that it's terribly funny, either. It just happens to be one of the two WASP jokes that I remember.
2.28.2006 3:39pm
devin chalmers (mail):
Raw_Data: "Of course I never did get Woody Allen -- I thought he lacked self-awareness."

I would say you definitely didn't get Woody Allen if that's your take--his main schtick is his really crippling amounts of self-awareness (usually meta-self-awareness, though, Allen-the-writer poking fun at Allen-the-movie-doppleganger's lack of self-awareness about his neuroses and hangups). You can see this especially in his earlier stuff.
2.28.2006 3:46pm
Six of One (mail):
Had to hunt around, but I think his one is inclusive enough for all of us here:
---------

The devout Jew was beside himself because his son had been dating a shiksa, so he went to visit his rabbi. The rabbi listened solemnly to his problem, took his hand, and said, "Pray to God."

So the Jew went to the synagogue, bowed his head, and prayed, "God, please help me. My son, my favorite son, he's going to marry a shiksa, he sees nothing but goyim..."

"Your son," boomed down this voice from the heavens, "you think you got problems. What about my son?"
2.28.2006 4:45pm
Eric Muller (www):
If Woody Allen, at this point in his analysis, lacks self-awareness, he has quite a malpractice claim.
2.28.2006 4:55pm
Nicole Black (mail) (www):
My husband, an atheist ex-Mormon from Idaho, has said that he never understood Wooday Allen or found him to be even remotely funny until he met my (Upstate) NY Jewish family. Now he gets it!

(And, it was not my intention to open up the interfaith marriage can of worms--so, let's just leave that one, shall we?)
2.28.2006 5:49pm
mbw (mail):
I'm Jewish and was struck by the mixture of ethnic similarity and difference in a joke I heard at a retirement party for an Upper Midwesterner of Scandenavian descent:

At the end of a party, Norwegians [or perhaps Swedes] say goodby and then don't leave for another hour. But nobody says anything during the hour.
2.28.2006 6:01pm
JM Hanes (mail):
One post. Two keyboards. A record!
2.28.2006 11:40pm
vic:
My favotite

A Catholic Preist and a Rabbi were riding in a car together. They see this very good looking young man in very tight fitting shorts jogging.

The preist gets all exited and says to the rabbi - "lets screw that guy"
rabbi says " out of what"
3.1.2006 1:21am
jallgor (mail):
Chebruska - I recommend reading "The Sword of Constantine" an interesting book about how Catholic Church doctrine and philosophy has created (sometimes unintentionally) hatred of Jews.
Eric Muller - I wanted to echo Eugene's comment about the first joke. It's a Jewish stereotype that Jews are pushy and cheap. I think that joke about the gentile not haggling over a coat in a department store is a comment on that stereotype. In fact, if I heard someone say that joke in public I would be a bit offended by it because it raises one of the nastiest and most persistent stereotypes of the "greedy Jew."
3.1.2006 9:08am
Visitor Again:
It's a Jewish stereotype that Jews are pushy and cheap.

Not sure you intended to say that this stereotype about Jews originated with Jews. I grew up in NOrthern England in the Forties and Fifties, and I heard every single day things like:

"You Jew," referring to someone who was stingy.

"You lucky Jew," referring to someone who had reaped good fortune of a material nature.

"He jewed him out of it," referring to one who cheated another.

These terms were applied to anyone supposedly exhibiting these traits, Jewish or not. Obviously, tbere was no humor intended. Obviously, they revealed a dim view of Jews. Obviously, they were bigotry.

Most children used these terms without knowing their real meaning; they learned them from their elders. At about age five, I used "lucky Jew" in the presence of our faithful family coctor, who was Jewish and making one of his numrous house calls to care for me, a lovely man who deserved nothing but respect and gratitude. My mother ripped me for it, and I was mortified. That was when I learned who Jews were and what anti-Semitism was.

I don't know how common this is in England today. In those days, the English didn't have West Indians, Africans,, Pakistanis and the like to pick on, at least not where I lived near Manchester. Jews may have been displaced in the stereotypers' pecking order.

Perhaps if one comes from a time and place where anti-Semitism was rife, it's more difficult to share in humor built on negative stereotypes about Jews. I have lived in Los Angeles for 40 years, my former wife and two children are Jewish, but I would never dream of telling jokes like the ones Eugene poited. If Jews want to post that kind of humor, fine, But it's not for me to do it.
3.1.2006 11:19am
Dave:
Jallgor says: "if I heard someone say that joke in public I would be a bit offended by it..."

What's more public than a blog?

Dave
3.1.2006 11:26am
Mikeyes (mail):
My partner had all of these jokes sent to him by family before this thread, so he sent me another to share:

A Jewish man was riding on the subway reading an Arab newspaper. A friend of his, who happened to be riding in the same subway car, noticed this strange phenomenon. Very upset, he approached him and said: "Moshe, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading an Arab newspaper?"

Moshe replied, "I used to read the Jewish newspapers, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation and intermarriage, Jews living in poverty!

So I switched to the Arab newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!"
3.1.2006 2:58pm
connie (mail) (www):
The second WASP joke: plays on the stereotype of Protestants being uptight about sex. It's not so much about cleanliness, although it's a nice touch showing the WASP to be even more uptight. This stereotype probably stems from the idea of some Protestant sects that self-denial in this lifetime is necessary to have rewards in the after life.
3.3.2006 12:48am
TedSez:
Is Jewish humor based on our outrage over negative stereotypes others force upon us, or on our own (affectionate) chiding of ourselves for our various real quirks? The answer is: Both.

Look at the characters on "Seinfeld," who have a selfish and self-indulgent side but also an altruistic side (but seem to goof things up the most when trying to do the right thing). Or the lead in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," a more or less decent guy who can't help getting into situations in which he behaves abysmally.

Maybe it's the tension between these two that makes Jewish humor so universal -- we're all flawed people who wish we were better, but often fail at the attempt.
3.3.2006 5:40pm