Cover image for Alan King's great Jewish joke book
Alan King's great Jewish joke book
King, Alan, 1927-2004.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Publishers, 2002.
Physical Description:
xii, 175 pages ; 21 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6231.J5 K475 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



“Jesus saves. Moses invests.” “Why spoil a good meal with a big tip?” “What did the Jewish mother ask her daughter when the daughter told her she had had an affair?—‘Who catered it?’ ” “I’ve probably heard—and told—some of the jokes in this book a thousand times; more than a few are older than I am. Others were actually new to me. But I can’t think of a good Jewish joke that isn’t in this collection. Enjoy!” —Alan King The undisputed heavyweight champion of Jewish humor livens up the pages with a rich and comprehensive treasury of the all-time best Jewish jokes. From the Polish shtetls to vaudeville and the Catskills to modern Hollywood and comedy clubs across the country, Jewish humor hasn’t just survived, it has become universally loved and often recited—by Jews and non-Jews alike. And who better to compile the best of Jewish humor than Alan King, the consummate comedian who has torn up every venue from the Friar’s Club and Broadway to Comedy Central? In Alan King’s Great Jewish Joke Book, King gathers old standards and hilarious new material, great one-liners and drop-dead funny stories, and packs them into a laugh-(or sometimes a groan-) out-loud celebration of the Jewish funny bone. So why is this book like chicken soup? Because it doesn’t cure anything, but it sure can make you feel better! Or your money back, guaranteed. (Just kidding.)

Author Notes

Alan King is currently starring as the legendary Sam Goldwyn in the off-Broadway production Mr. Goldwyn. He lives in Long Island, New York.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Organizing jokes by all the crucial categories-women, men, mothers, grandmothers, and rabbis-this book, as Billy Crystal puts it in his foreword, is "a big, bubbling pot of borscht." King, currently starring as MGM's big boss in the off-broadway production Mr. Goldwyn, casts new and familiar material in his own mold; as one of the "Rules for Jewish Living" notes: "a good kugel sinks in mercury." While he parses the differences between "Traditional vs. Reform Observance" or listing the "Top Ten Reasons Why God Created Eve" ("7. God knew Adam would never make a doctor's appointment for himself"), King's forte is storytelling and caricature, which he does with gusto, and strong build-ups to punchlines that don't overplay their hands. While some may object to the appearance of the word 'goyim' in the text, King's intention is to warmly entertain in old school Catskills style, and in that he succeeds terrifically. As another of the "Rules" asks: "And what's wrong with dry turkey?" (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



THE JEWISH PSYCHE The jokes in this chapter create a kind of overview of some significant preoccupations that characterize "the Jewish psyche." We get the worrywart, the hypochondriac, the money-grubbing miser, the intractable negotiater....Some would say certain of these refer to the stereotypical, or "stage" Jew. But objectively speaking, the only crime in humor is an unfunny joke. Let's face it: It's difficult enough to be funny without worrying about what is going to offend whom. If you stop and think about it, nearly all great humor is at the expense of someone or something. So take off your "politically correct" hat and have a great time! *** Jewish telegram: "Begin worrying. Details to follow." *** The Law of Conservation of Jewish Behavior Among Reform Jews This Extremely Reform Jewish principle, adapted from Newtonian physics, provides that "for each and every Jewish act, there is an equal and opposite non-Jewish act." Thus, if you do a small kindness for someone less fortunate than you, you are permitted to eat a shrimp cocktail. If you visit a sick person in the hospital, you may spend the Sabbath at a restricted country club. *** When two Jews argue they will have at least three opinions. *** Three men were staggering through the desert. The first, a Frenchman, exclaimed, "I'm so hot, I'm so thirsty, I must have wine!" The second, an Italian, shouted, "I am very hot, I am very thirsty, I must have wine!" The third, a Jew, cried out, "I am so hot, I am so thirsty, I must have...diabetes!" *** Yaakov was walking on the beach and noticed an old lamp. He picked it up and rubbed it. A genie suddenly came out of the bottle and said, "Gee thanks, Yaakov! I'm the Jewish Genie! I've been locked in this bottle for over two hundred years! Because you have released me I'll grant you three wishes. However, I have to warn you that what you get, your lawyer will get double." Yaakov thought for a while, then said, "For my first wish, I'd like one hundred million gold coins." The genie said, "Okay, but remember, your lawyer will get two hundred million gold coins." Yaakov said, "That's okay." Then the genie granted Yaakov's wish. Poof! There, right in front of him, was a hundred million gold coins. Then Yaakov said, "For my second wish, I would like a fifty-acre ranch on the French Riviera with a thirty-room home overlooking the bluffs into the ocean." The genie said, "Okay, but remember, your lawyer will be next door with twice the acreage and in a house twice as large and he likes to party twenty-four hours a day." Yaakov said, "I think I can live with that." Then the genie granted Yaakov's wish. Poof! There he was, on the French Riviera, and next door was his attorney just as the genie had said. So the genie said, "For your third wish you'd better think long and hard." After thinking it over, Yaakov said, "Could you please scare me half to death?" *** A flood worse than the days of Noah was foretold. Nothing could be done to prevent it; in just three days, the waters would wipe out the entire world. The leader of Buddhism appeared on TV and pleaded with everyone to become a Buddhist; that way, they will at least find salvation in heaven. The pope went on TV with a similar message: "It is still not too late to accept Jesus as your savior," he said. The chief rabbi of Israel took a slightly different approach: "We have three days," he said, "to learn how to live under water." *** A resident pediatrican was making his rounds in the ward, trailed by six interns. "Sickle cell anemia may be found in black children, especially if their parents come from the Caribbean. Tay-Sachs disease occurs in adult Jews, of course, but Jewish children are more easily identified by one fact. Can anyone tell me what that is?" "Certainly," one intern chimed in. "Heartburn." *** Three hunters were out on safari--an American, a Brit, and an Israeli. They were captured by cannibals who started preparing their cooking pots. The cannibal chief told the hunters they could have one last wish. "What's your last request?" he asked the American. "I'd like a steak," he replied. So the cannibals killed a zebra and served the American his steak. "What do you want?" the cannibal chief asked the Brit. "I'd like to have a smoke on my pipe," which they permitted him to do. Then the chief asked the Israeli: "What's your last wish?" "I want you to kick my rear end." "Be serious," said the head cannibal. "C'mon, you promised, whatever I wanted," said the Israeli. "Oh, all right," sighed the chief, who delivered the requested kick. Whereupon, the Israeli pulled out a gun and shot the chief and a few other cannibals while the rest ran away. The American and Brit were furious. "Why didn't you do that in the first place, so we wouldn't have had to go through all this?" they demanded. The Israeli replied: "What? Are you mad? The UN would have condemned me as the aggressor." *** A visitor came to Israel and saw the Western Wall. Not being too well versed in religious aspects, he inquired of another tourist about the significance of the wall. The other tourist explained, "This is a sacred wall. If you pray to it, God may hear you." The visitor walked close to the wall and started to pray. "Dear Lord," he said, "bring sunshine and warmth to this beautiful land." A commanding voice answered, "I will, my son." The visitor said, "Bring prosperity to this land." "I will, my son." "Let Jews and Arabs live together in peace, dear Lord." The voice answered, "You're talking to a wall." *** Three men were standing in line to get into heaven one day. Apparently it had been a pretty busy day, though, so Malach Gavriel (Angel Gabriel) had to tell the first one, "Heaven's getting pretty close to full today, and I've been asked to admit only people who have had particularly horrible deaths. So what's your story?" The first man replies, "Well, for a while I've suspected my wife has been cheating on me, so today I came home early and tried to catch her red-handed. As I came into my twenty-fifth-floor apartment, I could tell something was wrong, but all my searching around didn't reveal where this other guy could have been hiding. Finally, I went out to the balcony, and sure enough, there was this man hanging off the railing, twenty-five stories above the ground! By now I was really mad, so I started beating on him and kicking him, but wouldn't you know it, he wouldn't fall off. So finally I went back into my apartment and got a hammer and starting hammering on his fingers. Of course, he couldn't stand that for long, so he let go and fell, but even after twenty-five stories, he fell into the bushes, stunned but okay. I couldn't stand it anymore, so I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the fridge, and threw it over the edge where it landed on him, killing him instantly. But all the stress and anger got to me, and I had a heart attack and died there on the balcony." "That sounds like a pretty bad day to me, all right," said Malach Gavriel, and let the man right in. The second man approaches and Malach Gavriel explains to him about Heaven being full, and asks for his story. "It's been a very strange day. You see, I live on the twenty-sixth floor of my apartment building, and every morning I do my exercises out on my balcony. Well, this morning I must have slipped or something, because I fell over the edge. But I got lucky, and caught the railing of the balcony on the floor below me. I knew I couldn't hang on for very long, when suddenly this man burst out onto the balcony. I thought for sure I was saved, when he started beating on me and kicking me. I held on the best I could until he ran into the apartment and grabbed a hammer and started pounding on my hands. Finally I just let go, but again I got lucky and fell into the bushes below, stunned but all right. Just when I was thinking I was going to be okay, this refrigerator comes falling out of the sky and crushes me instantly, and now I'm here." Once again, Malach Gavriel had to concede that that sounded like a pretty horrible death, and into heaven the man went. The third man came to the front of the line, and again the whole process was repeated. Malach Gavriel explained that heaven was full and asked for his story. "Picture this," says the third man. "I'm hiding naked inside a refrigerator...." *** When a severe hurricane blew across the Caribbean, it wasn't long before the expensive yacht was swamped by high waves, sinking without a trace. There were only two survivors: the boat's owner, Dr. Eskinfeld, and its steward, Benny, who managed to swim to a nearby island. After reaching the deserted strip of land, the steward was weeping, certain that they would never be found. The other man was quite calm, relaxing against a tree. "Dr. Eskinfeld, Dr. Eskinfeld, how can you be so calm?" cried Benny. "We're going to die on this lonely island. We'll never be found here." "Calm down and listen to what I have to say, Benny," replied the doctor. "Five years ago I gave the United Way $500,000. And I gave another $500,000 to the United Jewish Appeal. I donated the same amounts four years ago. And three years ago, since I did very well in the stock market, I contributed $750,000 to each. Last year business was good, so the two charities each got a million dollars." "So what?" Benny shouted. "Well, it's time for their annual fund drives, and I know they're going to find me," smiled Dr. Eskinfeld. *** Here are six classic Jewish insults and curses: "May you inherit a hotel and die in every room." "May you grow like an onion, with your head in the ground." "May your bones be broken as often as the Ten Commandments." "May you have a son named after you soon." "May the souls of all of King Solomon's mothers-in-law inhabit you." "May God mistake you for your worst enemy and give you all the curses you wished on him." *** Abraham the Patriarch had some of the most famous arguments with God to be found in the entire Bible. Among the most memorable was the disagreement over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. There was a lesser-known discussion between God and Abraham. It had to do with the nature of the Covenant and the ultimate reward of the Jewish People. It is said that Abraham asked God for clarification. The discussion ended something like this: Abraham: "Okay, God, let me see if I've got this straight. The Arabs get all the oil, and we get to cut the ends of our penises off?" *** A religious man lived a good life and always felt God had treated him well. One day the water of a nearby river crested above the banks and a flood began. While all his neighbors evacuated, he stood fast and told them he wasn't worried, that God would provide. As the water reached his roof, a man in a raft came by and told him to hop on. He said no, that God would provide. With the water now halfway up his roof a man in a rowboat came and implored that the man come with him. He refused saying God would provide. Finally a helicopter came and dropped a rope as the waters rose even higher. He still stood fast at the top of his roof, insisting that God would provide. The helicopter flew away, and soon the rising water carried the man to his death. At the gates of heaven the man asked God why he did not save him. God replied, "What do you mean? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!" *** Jewish Grammar Rules 1. Phrase statements as questions. Instead of telling Ida she looks gorgeous, ask her, "How stunning do you have to look?" 2. Instead of answering questions with a statement, answer with another question. When someone asks how you feel, answer, "How should I feel?" 3. Whenever possible, end questions with "or what?" This allows the other person to interject another question: "Has she grown up, or what?" "Can you remember when she was just a baby, or what?" (About now, a spontaneous rendition of "Sunrise, Sunset" should be expected.) 4. Begin questions with "What?" Example: "What, my cooking's not good enough for you?" 5. Drop last word in sentence (which is typically a direct or indirect object): "What, do you want to get killed going alone? Harry will go with" (drop "you"). 6. Move subject to end of sentences: "Is she getting heavy, that Esther?" 7. Use "that" as a modifier to infer contempt: "Is Esther still dating that Norman fellow?" 8. Use "lovely" to describe actions taken by someone else that the listener should have done, too: "We got a lovely note from the Goldmans for hosting the seder." (Translation: "What, you didn't eat and drink at my seder? You slob, you didn't send a thank-you note!") *** A Russian asked an Englishman, "Why isn't there any anti-Semitism in your country?" The Englishman replied, "Because we don't think Jews are smarter than we are." *** A Jewish man and a Chinese man were conversing. The Jewish man commented upon what a wise people the Chinese are. "Yes," replied the Chinese. "Our culture is over four thousand years old. But you Jews are a very wise people, too." The Jewish man replied, "Yes, our culture is over five thousand years old." The Chinese man was incredulous. "That's impossible," he replied. "Where did your people eat for a thousand years?" *** An American tourist in Tel Aviv was visiting the impressive Mann Auditorium to take in a concert by the Israel Philharmonic. He particularly admired the unique architecture and the modern decor throughout the building. Finally, he turned to his escort and asked if the building was named for Thomas Mann, the world-famous author. "No," his friend said, "it's named for Fredric Mann, from Philadelphia." "Really? I never heard of him. What did he write?" "A check." Excerpted from Alan King's Great Jewish Joke Book by Alan King All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.