Lenny Bruce in 1961. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jewish and Goyish

A classic bit of American-Jewish humor.

Lenny Bruce (1925-1966) is something of a patron saint–make that rebbe–to American Jewish comedians. He’s a hero and martyr to the cause. Born Leonard Alfred Schneider, he was imprisoned on obscenity charges, but refused to censor his act. He died at 40 of a drug overdose. In the following piece, he takes humorous aim at the Jewish propensity to see the world as starkly divided, often absurdly, between things that are “Jewish” and those that are not–for the latter, self-consciously using the term goyish, considered today a slur, though it’s still used by some to describe such culturally foreign things as bologna on white bread with mayonnaise.

Now I neologize Jewish and goyish.

Dig: I’m Jewish. Count Basie’s Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor’s goyish.

B’nai Brith is goyish; Hadassah, Jewish. Marine corps–heavy goyim, dangerous.

Kool-Aid is goyish. All Drake’s cakes are goyish. Pumpernickel is Jewish, and, as you know, white bread is very goyish. Instant potatoes–goyish. Black cherry soda’s very Jewish. Macaroons are very Jewish–very Jewish cake. Fruit salad is Jewish. Lime jello is goyish. Lime soda is very goyish.

Trailer parks are so goyish that Jews won’t go near them. Jack Paar Show is very goyish.

Underwear is definitely goyish. Balls are goyish. Titties are Jewish. Mouths are Jewish.

All Italians are Jewish. Greeks are goyish–bad sauce.

Eugene O’Neil–Jewish; Dylan Thomas, Jewish. Steve is goyish, though. It’s the hair. He combs his hair in the boys’ room with that soap all the time.

Louis. That’s my name in Jewish. Louis Schneider.

“Why haven’t ya got Louis Schneider up on the marquee?”

“Well, cause it’s not show business. It doesn’t fit.”

“No, no, I don’t wanna hear that. You Jewish?”


“You ashamed of it?”


“Why you ashamed you’re Jewish?”

“I’m not any more! But it used to be a problem. Until Playboy magazine came out.”

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