Big Mouth is the animated show about puberty and masturbation you didn’t realize you needed. Set in Westchester, New York and based on the childhoods of Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg, there’s a distinctly Jewish sensibility to the show that you can’t ignore.
The basic premise (assuming you have yet to watch) revolves around 13-year-olds Nick (Nick Kroll) and Andrew (John Mulaney) going through puberty and navigating 7th grade. Puberty is personified by a “hormone monster.” There’s also Jessi (Jessi Klein), who gets bat mitzvahed during Season 1 (and who is the best). Other characters include Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), Missy (Jenny Slate), and the Ghost of Duke Ellington (Jordan Peele). Just go with it.
In honor of the series dealing with that awkward 7th grade year, we’ve ranked the 13 best Jewish jokes in Season 1. (Season 2 is set to premiere later in 2018.)
– The theme of Jessi’s bat mitzvah was “great women,” and there was an Anne Frank table and a Malala table. (Episode 9)
– Nick’s camp friend having a photo of Max Greenfield from New Girl (Episode 6):
– Jessi On Cantor Dina: “She’s the worst. I hate how she ‘huchs’ her words.” (Episode 9)
– Hormone Monster re: Andrew: “Good night, you prince of Westchester, you king of the tri-state area.” (Episode 1)
Now to the top 13…
13. Be Afraid (Episode 4)
Barbara: Remember Andrew, be afraid of things.
This takes place in the sleepover episode, when Barbara (a classic Jewish mother) drops off Andrew and Nick at Jay’s house. She tells him the mantra of Jewish mothers everywhere: “Be afraid of things.”
12. Woody Allen? (Episode 6)
Missy: He reminds me of a young Woody Allen playing a surprise gig at the Carlyle Hotel. […]
Caleb: Woody Allen was accused of molestation. He says he didn’t do it, but he did marry his stepdaughter. It is both very complicated and very simple.
Andrew is auditioning for Jazz Club, and Missy tells her fellow Jazz Club members she reminds him of a “young Woody Allen.” Caleb, who has previously been defined in episode 2 as “the kid with the rolly backpack who can’t read social cues,” tells Missy, “He says he didn’t do it, but he did marry his stepdaughter.” In two lines, Big Mouth sums up the Woody Allen issue perfectly (and hilariously).
11. Holocaust Museum (Episode 4)
Andrew: This place looks like the Holocaust Museum
Nick and Andrew walk into Jay’s house for a sleepover, which is in disrepair, and Andrew remarks: “This place looks like the Holocaust Museum.” So dark, but so funny.
10. Williamsburg Jews (Episode 6)
Ghost of Duke Ellington: [Singing] In Williamsburg all the old-time Jews / Have rented their buildings / To hipster dudes with their waist-length beards / And their buckled shoes / Still you’re never lost in New York City.
Andrew and Nick venture into Manhattan to meet a city friend of Nick’s from camp (classic), and get lost (classic). They end up in Williamsburg, where the Ghost of Duke Ellington narrates about the old Hasidic Jews renting their buildings to hipsters. Simple, but funny as hell.
9. Bat mitzvah feedback (Episode 9)
Nick: Jessi, I loved it. A few small thoughts. You sang great. The breath in here is… it’s terrible.
“I Survived Jessi’s Bat Mitzvah” is a big episode (and prime for #jewishjokes, it appears a lot on this list), but this little throwaway line from Nick made me start laughing. He starts complementing her Torah reading (who didn’t sign bat mitzvah guestbooks and/or blown up photos of the bat mitzvah girl’s face with, “You sounded amazing today!!!!”), and then comments on how old people have bad breath. Honestly: all correct.
8. Jew Fishman (Episode 9)
Elderly man: Do you boys need a yarmulke?
Ghost of Duke Ellington: Well, I’ll be! It’s Jew Fishman, my agent.
Also from Jessie’s Bat Mitzvah episode. Of course this random old Jewish man happens to be Duke Ellington’s agent. Of course he spends the entire episode wandering around asking if people need yarmulkes. All around fantastic joke.
7. Electronic stores in New York (Episode 6)
Barbara: You could have been lured into an electronics store by a pushy Israeli and forced to buy a camera you don’t want.
After Andrew and Nick venture into the city, get lost, and make it back to Westchester, Andrew’s mom chastises him on a very specific scenario. TBH, this feels specific enough that it must’ve happened to one of the creators (most likely at B&H). Or is it just a universal experience? Either way: specificity works.
6. Andrew’s boxing nickname (Episode 4)
Jay’s Brother: And in this corner: the “Fiddler on the Roof,” the “Pubescent Delicatessen,” the Gloubermensch!
The sleepover episode is appropriately titled “Sleepover: A Harrowing Ordeal of Emotional Brutality.” At the boys’ sleepover, Jay’s brothers make Nick and Andrew fight. And before the fight, these funny intros appear. Andrew being referred to as a Fiddler on the Roof, a “PUBESCENT DELICATESSEN” (what a nickname!!) and the “Gloubermensch” is just too good.
5. Seinfeld parody (Episode 8)
In Episode 8, “The Head Push,” the episode cuts from a party Nick’s older sister is throwing to Nick, Andrew, and Jessi sitting around a diner table exactly like Seinfeld. The tone of their line delivery, even the animated motions — for anyone who grew up watching Seinfeld (or still watches re-runs), it was immediately recognizable (and by default, Jewish).
4. Bat mitzvah speech (Episode 9)
Lola: J is for Jessi, the girl everyone loves.
Devon: E is for everyone, the people who love Jessi.
Lola: S is for slut. It’s what everyone says Jessi is.
Again, super recognizable bat mitzvah things. The weird speeches everyone gave to their friends in front of relatives, parents’ friends you didn’t know, and an assortment of middle schoolers. Filled with inside jokes and acrostic poems. Too good.
3. People I like (Episode 3)
Andrew: Hey, Dad, um can I ask you something?
Marty: Me? Okay, fine, but the lights stay off. I don’t own stock in Con Ed.
Andrew: Um, when did you start to like women?
Marty: Women? Ugh. Can’t stand women.
Marty: Don’t care for men, either. I don’t like people in general.
Andrew: Well, what about Mom?
Marty: Well, I love your mother, but don’t tell her that. Who else? I would say that there’s about four other people… Terry Bradshaw, of course. There’s a Metro North conductor who’s good. My cousin Eugene no, that’s it. I think that’s it. I think three. Yeah, I like three people. Andrew, did this talk help?
Andrew: I guess?
Andrew is struggling to figure out if he’s gay or not and decides to ask his dad when he started to like women. His dad responds in such a Jewish way: He doesn’t really like anyone, besides Terry Bradshaw (co-host of NFL Sunday), a Metro North conductor, and his cousin Eugene. Marty is a great character in general — there’s a running joke about his stomach problems when he eats scallops.
2. Hate crime-y (Episode 10)
Jessi: Ugh! The synagogue where Cantor Dina works. I just wanna, like, do something to it.
Jay: Let’s throw a brick through a window.
Jessi: Um, of the synagogue? That’s a little hate crimey, Jay.
Jessi and Jay are in front of “Temple Beth Amphetamine” (yes) when Jessi is ranting about how annoyed she is with Cantor Dina (who her mom may be in love with). Jay suggests throwing a brick, and Jessi immediately shuts the idea down: “That’s a little hate crime-y.” This is the perfect example of good Jewish jokes: self-deprecating, but getting defense immediately when a non-Jew veers into anti-Semitism.
1. Cantor Dina (Episode 9)
Cantor Dina: Hey, Jess.
Jess: Hey, Cantor Dina.
Cantor Dina: Wow! Really good vibes in this room. Yes! FYI, we’re gonna begin the journey in five minutes.
Cantor Dina: Or as we say in the theater, “Thank you, five.”
Cantor Dina: You have to say it back to me.
Jess: Thank you, five?
Cantor Dina: Shalom.
This takes the number one slot for a few reasons: 1) the spot on portrayal of that pre-bat mitzvah meeting where the bat mitzvah girl is so anxious, 2) the “chill” tone the cantor tries to take, and 3) calling a bat mitzvah a “journey.” In the more Reform synagogues of Westchester, this scene just captures it all.