The greatest Jewish joke of all

Updated: Apr 30


With such a preposterous title, you think I'm joking. Though I'm not, I hope you’ll laugh. If you don’t, I’ve taken my precautions.


My favorite of all Jews have always been violinists and comedians. Violinists, because I am one myself. Comedians, because I am anything but one (although sometimes I’m so serious that it’s funny). In both cases, it speaks of a great admiration.

I’ve laughed and laughed over Charlie and Woody, Borge and Burns. The latter who said:


“You’ve got to be honest. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made!”


And you can’t knock a Rabbi who affirms that nothing, not even G-d, should escape humour.

I’m going to suggest that the Jewish talent for humour (and for all things intellectual) entitles them to deliver the greatest joke of all times.


Yes, I know. You want to hear the joke, here and now. But there are two problems with your demand. First, the joke is actually being “told” at this very moment (lasting several thousand years). Second, the punch line can’t be delivered to you until you realize that you are in the middle of a grand joke, just like you can’t experience orgasm unless you are aware that you are having sex.

Incidentally, sex and humour have a lot in common, which is why we tend to joke about sex, and have sex after a good laugh with the right person. For one, they seem to have no biological imperative. If you believe that the purpose of human sex (as opposed to copulation) is reproduction, you will not have made it this far in reading.

Other animals copulate, but never laugh (never mind hyenas). Even Garfield never laughs, he just makes you laugh. Maybe I’m wrong about all animals. Dolphins are reputed very intelligent, and they seem to always have a pleasant smile. So maybe they do laugh in their own way. To avoid polemics (that are never funny), let’s limit our discussion of humour to the human kind.

Humour, like sex, plays with our enjoyment of “the element of surprise”. In sex, we may refer to this as the erotic element, the art of hinting at something rather than showing it outright. Semi-transparence and lace are the basics of lingerie. With humour, it’s about expecting one thing and getting something that is so unlike what we expected that it causes a spontaneous burst of emotion. Watching a clown suddenly lose his pants is one thing, but when it happens to Mr. President (with his wig as well) then it’s a legendary hoot. We can’t help but share it with the world. Is there anything more universally funny than seeing someone suddenly lose their pants in public? Again, it must have something to do with sex.


Humour is even more elusive and uncontrollable than sex. So much so that it is surprising no religion has forbidden it. Well, some have certainly pushed in that direction. There seems to be a correlation between religions that shame sex (and women) and those that take themselves very seriously. Overall, religion doesn’t tend to be a laughing matter, and none have ever suggested that for once, if only for once, a stand-up comedian replace a rabbi or priest or imam.

There is a Protestant saying “cleanliness is next to godliness”, but nowhere is it written

“blessed are those who belly-laugh, for they shall know G-d”

Not even “He who giggles to pieces shall be made whole”.

Has anyone suggested that LOL might be a sacred trigramme?


It has been seriously told to me that Jewish women make the best lovers, but that is not the joke I'm getting at either. No, all this talk about sex has been a diversion. By now, you’ve forgotten about the greatest Jewish joke in the history of the world. Let me be clear, the joke is not reserved for Jews, nor is it about Jews in particular. I’ve only called it a Jewish joke because it’s truly in a class of its own.

Now you are having a hard time holding back your grin as you sense this greatest joke of all times is just around the corner. In truth, “it” is not around the corner. It is already here. You are the one around the corner, not aware of how and when the punch-line is going to pop out and knock you in the face.

Well now, as Jesus said: "no man knows the hour” when it’s going to pop out.

What I know for certain is that it’s going to be a roaring laugh. And if it took a few thousand years to build up the suspense, surely a hundred will be required for you to stop rolling on the floor, splitting your sides. Laughter tends to be contagious, and you won’t be alone.


There will be some hilarious characters all come together on the stage: ones with black suits, top hats, and curly fringes of hair on each side of the face. Others with white robes and sandals. Both with beards. Others with green uniforms and machine guns. All will be pointing at each other and hooting with laughter until it all settles down and each wipes away his tears (and blood), breathes a huge sigh of relief, and says:

“Brother, that was a hell of a job you did playing that role. I thought you were for real!”

It was a superb script. The playwright had to be Jewish.

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© 2020 by Carsten Sprotte