The animated puberty comedy Big Mouth returned with season two this past weekend. Based on Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s Jewish childhoods in Westchester, New York, the show, as we wrote about season one, has a distinctive Jewish sensibility. In the first season, there was an amazing episode about a bat mitzvah, jokes about Holocaust museums, Williamsburg Jews, electronics stores in New York, and more. Suffice to say, we were looking forward to season two.
The plot follows Nick (Nick Kroll), Andrew (John Mulaney), Jessi (Jessi Klein), Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), and Missy (Jenny Slate) as they navigate puberty, with the help of their “Hormone Monsters” (voiced fabulously by Maya Rudolph and Nick Kroll). This season also introduced Gina (Gina Rodriguez!!!!) as Nick’s love interest, and had a storyline about the “Shame Wizard” (David Thewlis). As Nick Kroll told us back in August, “If you can believe it, there are many more awkward, embarrassing stories to tell about puberty.”
While this season was less Jewish than season one, we still found the 13 best Jewish jokes, just for you.
13. Mets poster in Andrew’s bedroom (Ep 3)
This is a small visual gag that’s blink and you miss it, but the Mets poster in Andrew’s bedroom wall is just so authentic to Westchester Jews. It makes sense that he would be a fan of the Mets, arguably the most “Jewish” baseball team, and major props to the writers and animators for nailing these specific cultural details.
12. Nazi dildos (Ep 8)
The Shame Wizard haunts the kids going through puberty to make them feel bad about themselves. When Maury and Connie (the Hormone Monsters, kinda like puberty personified) try and convince him to take a night off, Connie asks, “Don’t you have a hobby or something?”
He responds that he collects “vintage Nazi dildos” which is so ridiculous it’s funny. Connie and Maury are disgusted, with Maury commenting, “He figured out a way to ruin dildos.” This becomes a recurring gag throughout the episode.
11. Nightshirt (Ep 1)
Andrew, here, tells Nick that even though his basketball uniform has gotten bigger, he could “wear it as a nightshirt.” To me, he seems to be channeling his Jewish mom. Is this a Jewish thing? Is this just a thing that feels very authentic to my childhood? When Jewish moms are like, “It’s okay that it’s big, you could wear it as a nightshirt”?
10.Woody Allen (Ep 5)
Nick interrupts his dad’s retelling of his relationship with his mom to ask, “I’m sorry, is that a Woody Allen thing? I’ve never seen any of his movies, ’cause mom says he’s a monster.”
We love a good Woody Allen is a creep joke!
9. Nathan’s hot dogs (Ep 5)
Similarly from Nick’s dad’s flashback, he describes Brooklyn as “Land of the Dodgers, Coney Island, and Nathan’s Famous dogs.” Not Nathan’s famous hot dogs, but famous dogs, who had headshots. This unexpected visual gag – of Jewish dogs, not the very Jewish Nathan’s hot dogs — made me chuckle.
8. Maury Povitch (Ep 3)
Andrew’s Hormone Monster, Maury, disappears, so Andrew shouts, “Mauryyyyy!” His dad, Marty (arguably my favorite character) shouts to Andrew’s room, “Who’s Maury? Maury Povich? What kind of a bozo thinks about daytime TV at night?” Of course Marty would reference Maury Povich, the Jewish TV host, and of course he would be indignant that his son is thinking about a daytime TV host at night.
7. “Wine and beer, I’m not made of money” (Ep 2)
When the boys ogle over Gina’s boobs early in the season, Andrew jokes about marrying her boobs. As the animation switches to his fantasy, he imagines, “It would be a tasteful ceremony. Catered, open bar, but wine and beer only, I’m not made of money.” Which is oh-so-very Jewish. (Also they got the visuals of a Jewish wedding down, from the chuppah to the kippahs to the tallis — the animators’ careful attention to Jewish detail is fantastic.)
6. Wigs for religious dogs ( Ep 7)
This is a recurring gag, about the rabbi’s adult son trying, and failing, to start a business for wigs for religious dogs. (You can even see them in the background of the frame.) The rabbi tells Andrew earlier in the season that he tried to go on Jewish Shark Tank, called “Fish Tank,” and is very nervous about the business.
5. Synagogue dues (Ep 3)
Ah, Marty. The best. Andrew asks his mom if she’s ever done anything she feels ashamed of, and Barbara responds, whatever you did, don’t tell me! Marty then butts in to say, “Don’t ask your mother about shame, that’s why I pay synagogue dues.” When Andrew points out that he doesn’t pay synagogue dues, he responds indignant, “you’re damn right I don’t!” And it culminates in the joke, “We wandered the desert for 40 years, so that this man can park at a diagonal?”
It’s an amazing Jewish joke: reference to the Exodus from Egypt, frustration about parking at a synagogue, and the rabbi taking up three parking spots.
4. Trying to get advice for free (Ep 3)
Andrew, in feeling bad about masturbating, goes to a Catholic church. The priest tells him to do five Hail Mary’s, and Andrew, annoyed, asks, “I’m sorry… that’s Catholicism?” The priest then says, “Wait, are you not Catholic?”
Andrew: “Well if you must know, I’m Jewish.” The priest then responds, “ohhhhh, Jewish.” (Screencaps do not capture the intonation here. It is fantastic. Please go watch this scene, around 16 minutes into episode 3.)
The priest then says, “I’m not surprised you’re in here trying to get advice for free.” A classic dig at the “Jews are cheap stereotype,” which Andrew responds with “ohhhhh, okay,” then proceeds to make a series of jokes about the sex scandals that have plagued the Catholic church. Overall, a great big trafficking in religious stereotypes.
3. Sin is synagogue parking (Ep 3)
Episode 3 is really the gem of Jewish jokes in this season, mainly because of Andrew’s interaction with Rabbi Poblart (pronounced Paul Blart, like the mall cop). Again, the animators with the Jewish detail: the Israeli flag in the corner of his office, the tallit poking out of his suit, the bookshelf filled with Torah books.
Andrew asks the rabbi if masturbation is a sin, and the rabbi says the real sin is the parking situation at the synagogue. (Which, of course, Andrew’s dad Marty agrees with, and is a callback to their earlier conversation.)
2. White or Jewish? (Ep 1)
When Andrew’s parents wax off his mustache (another Jewish joke, how hairy some Jews are), he feels embarrassed by the red bumps on his lips. Missy tells him how he should love his body, and how she’s in an online community called “Girls Are Perfect and There’s Not a Thing Wrong with Any One of Them, And Anyone Who Would Tell You Otherwise is Actually Just Afraid of Your Power!”
Andrew asks if there’s something like that for pubescent boys — he’s been feeling ashamed of his body – and Missy, angrily, tells him, “Yeah, it’s called society, you privileged white cis hetero male,” and storms off.
Andrew, quietly, says, “But I’m not white, I’m Jewish, which is worse to some people!” This joke lands so well with a Jewish audience because it hits on the eternal question of are Jews white? Andrew, in trying to tell Missy that he’s not just a white cis hetero male because he’s Jewish, gets at the insecurities and confusion many Jews feel about their identity in America today.
1. Jewish guilt (Ep 3)
This takes the #1 Jewish joke slot in Big Mouth season two for a few reasons: one, focusing on Jewish guilt. Two, the rabbi then guilting Andrew for not investing in his son’s business venture, wigs for religious dogs. Three, the voice. Which is hard to convey in screencaps, but it just sounds like your rabbi, or grandpa, talking to you. They hit on the authentic Jewishness perfectly.
Mazel tov, Big Mouth, on another great season.