Commentary Magazine


Two Passover Jokes

Every month in this space, Joseph Epstein tells a Jewish joke and invites you, the COMMENTARY reader, to offer an exegesis of it in 250 words or less.
First off, this month’s new joke.

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Two Passover Jokes

I.

Bill O’Brien, a blind scholar, is invited to his first seder at his colleague and friend Sam Brodsky’s house. All goes smoothly until a matzo is set on his plate. O’Brien passes his hand lightly across it and asks: “Who wrote this crap?”

II.

Arthur Miller takes his new wife Marilyn Monroe to his mother’s apartment for her first seder. On the way home, Miller asks Marilyn if she enjoyed it.

“Darling, I loved it all,” she says, “all your family together, the ritual, the prayers, the food—especially the food.”

“I’m delighted,” says Miller, “but tell me, sweetheart, what dish did you like best?”

“I loved your mother’s chicken soup,” Marilyn says. “So clear, so golden, so flavorful.”

“And the matzo balls?” he asks. “What did you think of my mother’s matzo balls?”

“Oh, Arthur, I especially loved those matzo balls. How ever did your mother get them to be so light, so perfectly round, so tasty? They were absolutely scrumptious.”

“My mother will be pleased to hear it,” Miller says.

“In fact, I’ll write your mother a note tomorrow about her fabulous matzo balls. I just loved those matzo balls to death. But tell me, Arthur, what do you Jews do with the rest of the matzo?”

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Now here’s the joke that ran in our February issue.

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The Martians in Manhattan Joke

A spaceship lands in the middle of Manhattan, just beyond the Pulitzer Fountain outside the Plaza Hotel.

Fifteen figures emerge, all with kelly-green skin. The police and press are soon on the scene. One of the figures, speaking in a feminine voice, emerges as the leader and spokesperson from the group.

“Where are you from?” a reporter from the New York Times asks.

“We are from Mars,” she answers in a clear metallic monotone.

“Why are you here?” the woman from the Daily News asks.

“We were on a pleasure cruise around the firmament when our ship malfunctioned, causing us to make this landing.”

“Are all Martians, like you and your fellow travelers, green?” asks a man from Page Six of the Post.

“Yes,” the spokesperson answers,“all Martians are green.”

“Do all Martians speak in a monotone as you do?” asks the Times man.

“Yes,” the spokesperson answers. “All Martians do.”

“You have three breasts,” says the Daily News reporter. “Is this also true of all Martians?”

“It is true of all female Martians,” she responds.

“And you don’t seem to have the protuberances from the side of your head that we on Earth call ears,” says the Post reporter.

“I have seen historical photographs of Martians with ears,” says the spokesperson. “We seem to have lost them many eons ago. We do have minuscule holes at the side of our heads, invisible to the naked eye.”

“One thing more,” asks the New York Times reporter. “You have seven fingers on your hands, with a large diamond ring on the third and fifth fingers of each hand. Do all Martian women have such large diamond rings?”

“No,” says the Martian spokesperson. “The Gentiles don’t.”

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The Winning Exegesis of  “The Martians in Manhattan Joke” . . .

. . . comes from Shubert Spero of Jerusalem, Israel, who writes: In a thoughtfully constructed joke, the buildup to the punch line contains a few nuances that bring a chuckle to the discerning. Thus, in “The Martians in Manhattan Joke,” the type of questions asked by the reporters reflect the conventional images of the newspapers they represent: the New York Times goes after the informative; the Daily News seeks the sensational; and the New York Post probes for social problems. It is said that we Jews like to laugh at ourselves, that we are our severest critics. This is amply exemplified by our Martian joke, which seems to be saying that, while profound physical differences characterize these extraterrestrial hominids from Mars, the female “Jews” among them exhibit some striking similarities to our own, namely, a tendency toward ostentation. Another bit of subtle slander is the suggestion that the female leader of the Martian spaceship happens to be “Jewish” because, after all, it is a “pleasure cruise around the firmament.” However, the “good news” is that, even on other planets, Jews manage to retain their distinctiveness, here alas for the worse but also possibly for the better.

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Again, please e-mail your exegeses of “Two Passover Jokes” (250 words or fewer) to: enterlaughing@commentarymagazine.com. Entries must be received by May 1.

About the Author

Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.




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