Monday, November 17, 2008

Jewish Humor

As I said in the Election Humor post, I'm shifting the direction of this blog to tell Jewish jokes that shed some light on Jewish culture, religion or history. I've found in the few years that I've had this blog that I haven't written much because I can't bring myself to write about a topic without researching it properly and providing references, and I just didn't have the time to do all that. But you don't need to do much research to tell a joke! So maybe I'll be able to get posts up here more frequently. And certainly, the jokes will be vastly more entertaining than my opinions on any serious matters.

So lets start with a bit of meta-humor: a Jewish joke about Jews telling jokes. I translated this very loosely from the original Yiddish in the book Royte Pomerantsen, a collection of classic Jewish humor written in transliterated Yiddish (Yiddish written with English letters).

* * * * *

When you tell a joke to a redneck, he laughs three times: once when you tell it, once when you explain it, and once when he finally gets it.

When you tell a joke to a yuppie, he laughs twice: once when you tell it and once when you explain it, because he never really gets it.

When you tell a joke to a police officer, he only laughs once: when you tell it, because he doesn't let you explain it and he never gets it.

But when you tell a joke to a Jew...
... he doesn't laugh at all. He just says, "Oh, that's an old joke, and I can tell it better."

* * * * *

Anybody who has ever told a joke at a Jewish gathering will tell you that the above joke is entirely true! It seems like everyone has already heard them all, and there is always someone who knows a better version of the same joke. You can tell a joke that you think is very funny, and the reaction you get is, "Oh yeah, I've heard that one before, but the way I heard it, the voice from above said, 'Your son? Let me tell you about my son!'" (yes, someday I'll tell you the joke that goes with that punchline... if you haven't heard it already).

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