Old Jews Telling Jokes

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2010-09-07
  • Publisher: Villard
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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Based on the very popular Web site of the same name, this book features hilarious, irreverent, and sometimes bawdy jokes by old Jews (both men and women, all over 60) and the fascinating stories behind both the jokes and the tellers.

Author Biography

During a twenty year career in the New York film industry, Sam Hoffman has Produced, Directed or Assistant Directed numerous films, shorts, second units and commercials including:  The Royal Tenenbaums, School of Rock, The Producers Musical, Donnie Brasco, Dead Man Walking and Groundhog Day.Currently, Hoffman is Executive Producing “The Oranges” starring Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener. 

In January of 2009, Hoffman partnered with Jetpack Media to launch OldJewsTellingJokes.com – a website devoted to video portraits of Old Jews Telling Jokes. Since then, the videos have been viewed over 7 million times and have been released on DVD by First Run Features. The site, covered in countless blogs, has been featured in New York Magazine, the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal. 
Hoffman graduated with Honors from the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in New York City with his wife Andrea Crane, a modern art specialist with the Gagosian Gallery, their son Jack and daughter Juliet.
Eric Spiegelman produces original Internet content for Jetpack Media, a production company founded by GreeneStreet Films in 2008. Before that, he was a lawyer.

Eric graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and from Boston University. He lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.


Chapter One

The Jewish Mother

What? All of the Sudden You

Don't Like My Brisket?

She was so deeply embedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise. As soon as the last bell had sounded, I would rush off for home, wondering as I ran if I could possibly make it to our apartment before she had succeeded in transforming herself. Invariably she was already in the kitchen by the time I arrived, and setting out my milk and cookies. Instead of causing me to give up my delusions, however, the feat merely intensified my respect for her powers.

So starts Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth's definitive kvetch novel of the American Jewish Mother. What's interesting to me is that Roth's portrait ?doesn't start with any of the petty stereotypical claims- overprotective, anxious, neurotic. Instead Portnoy's mother is defined by her power.

Coincidentally, when I posted my own mother's joke to our website, it was accompanied by the following description: "Diane Hoffman is my mom. She can do pretty much anything and, at any given time, is doing everything." The phrasing may be less sublime, but the sentiment is related. If we, and by "we" I mean the Jewish boys, have an issue with our mothers, the issue is with their abundance of gifts, talents, and abilities, or at least with our perception of these things.

But why are these Jewish mothers so exaggerated? Are there steroids in the flanken? What has created this ?über-race of ?shape-shifting moms?

Some scholars suggest that it is intrinsically tied to the Jewish suburban flight during the middle of the last century. For generations the mother had occupied the central role in the Jewish family. In the shtetl, they ran the household, which could include domesticated animals and small farming, while the fathers often spent copious time studying Torah. Suddenly these ferociously intelligent, energetic women were stuck in a house in the middle of nowhere with little or nothing to do. By the 1950s, many could even afford a little help around the house with the laundry and the dusting.

So what's a ravenously curious, intellectually gifted, ambitious woman to do? Many joined associations and community groups such as Hadassah and synagogue sisterhoods. Many ran ?parent-teacher organizations and started book clubs and charity organizations. And starting in the 1960s, many started to enter the labor market. But before having a job became a generally accepted option, many turned their laserlike focus to their children. This had a mixed effect, which we could address further if we had a chapter on psychoanalysis, but unfortunately the publishers ?didn't find our collection of 378 Freudian ?knock-knock jokes to be worth printing.

One might ask-why start the book with a chapter on Jewish mothers?

The answer is simple. That's where it all starts.

A Bonus Freudian ?Knock-Knock Joke

"Knock knock."

"Who's there?"


"Oedipus who?"

"Oedipus shmedipus, as long as he loves his mother."

Dennis Spiegelman

Dennis Spiegelman is Eric's dad. He moved to Los Angeles in 1963, married a shiksa (Eric's word choice), and had two children. He deals in antique and collectible objects.

My Son, the President

It's the year 2016, and a Jew has been elected president. He calls his mother and says, "Ma, I'm the president of the United States! Are you coming to the inauguration?"

She says, "Eh, well, I've got nothing to wear."

He says, "Ma, I'm gonna be the president. I can get you a dressmaker."

She says, "Eh, well, I only eat kosher."

"Ma, I'm gonna be president! I can get you a kosher meal."

She says, "Eh, well, how am I gonna get there?"

"Ma, I can get you Air Force One. Come to the inaugural."

She ends up at the inaugural

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