—Old Jewish Man
A senior citizen with a Yiddish accent
. In fiction, Yiddish accents are common for old characters, even if their families are of a completely different culture. Alter Kockers are most common in comedies, due to the influence of Jewish comedians. Many Borscht Belt
comics had immigrant parents with thick Yiddish accents. Sometimes, a character shown in the future or undergoing Rapid Aging
will inexplicably gain a Yiddish accent and stereotypical Alter Kocker mannerisms, following Rule of Funny
Incidentally, the phrase alter kacker
literally means "old shitter." It's the Yiddish equivalent to the American slang phrase "old fart." Also incidentally, it means the exact same thing in German (which is the basis of Yiddish).
Related to Informed Judaism
. Compare Grumpy Old Man
. Likely to exhibit Jewish Complaining
and Jews Love to Argue
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- The Goldfish Under the Couch Cushion.
Anime & Manga
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, when Chazz is under the control of the Society of Light, Jaden duels him using Chazz's favoured Ojama cards against him. One card causes Ojama tokens to appear on Chazz's side of the field, which look like elderly versions of the normal monsters. In the English dub, they sound Yiddish.
- Silex and the City has the "archeo-Yiddish" Madame Finkelstein.
- In Isaac Asimov's Second Foundation (volume 3 of the original Foundation Trilogy), Preem Palver appears to be a rustic farmer - and speaks with an Immigrant Yiddish accent (which Asimov was completely familiar with). Subverted, as far from being an unintelligent hick, Palver is the First Speaker of the Second Foundation.
- In Ethan, Suspended, the title character's grandparents are this.
Live Action TV
- The phrase was mentioned on The Nanny. Interestingly, despite star Fran Drescher's Jewish heritage, the phrase is mistranslated, likely for the sake of the joke. She instead says that it means "Old Cock...er Spaniel."
- In an early episode of Boy Meets World, where Cory and Shawn imagine what they would be like some sixty odd years from now. Quite inexplicably, they are shown talking with Yiddish accents, despite being explicitly shown as Christian in earlier episodes.
- In later episodes, Cory seems to have matured into a full-blown Alter Kocker (having aged out of his Mouthy Kid phase) despite only being in his late teens. (The actor who plays him, Ben Savage, is Jewish.)
- The same thing happened on Ugly Betty, when the title character dreamed of her and Daniel in the far future. Betty is Latina, and Daniel certainly isn't Jewish either.
- Ha Pijamoth, an Israeli kid-sitcom of all things, suggested that "at some age, people just start speaking Yiddish. It's a medical fact."
- In an episode of The Good Wife, Will and Diane, in their plot to oust Julian, bring back two equity partners whom they refer specifically as "the alter kockers" in order to get their votes.
- Prior to You Don't Mess with the Zohan, just about every "ethnic" Jewish character portrayed by Adam Sandler (usually on Saturday Night Live) would talk this way.
- In the final few episodes of Soap Jodie (Billy Crystal) did some past life regression hypnosis and got stuck as a 90 year old Brooklyn Alter Kocker originally from Minsk.
- On Northern Exposure transplant Joel mentions them back in his "old country" of Queens, NY from time to time.
- Several older characters on Seinfeld, including the Mandelbaums and at times Jerry's own father, Morty. At one point they have an argument which degenerates into nothing but the word "ehh!". Jerry's Uncle Leo is probably the most stereotypical of an old, grumpy Jew.
- Mayer in Lost Girl.
- Ginsberg's father on Mad Men.
- Mushnik from Little Shop of Horrors, though some cottage productions give him a German accent just for fun.
- This was how Gravis Mushnik was played by Mel Welles in the original film..."Gravis" sounds like an Old Country name — enough to be used as the surname of Andy Kaufman's character in Taxi — but it is rather of a piece with the "sick" jokes in the film, many of which reference illness and medicine, the last particularly in the scene involving Seymour's mother. (Yes, he has a mother; let a man start singing, and all of a sudden he thinks he's an orphan...and he never calls.)
- Pa Grape in VeggieTales, which is kind of odd because he was originally introduced as the patriarch of a hillbilly family, and none of the other members of the family sounded Jewish.
- This may be from the limitations of placing most characters on the shoulders of Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki, due to limiting most characters to whoever they can record in-house.
- One of Grandpa's housemates at the retirement home in The Simpsons is known solely to fans by the nickname "Old Jewish Man" on the basis of his accent.
Old Jewish Woman: "Our son Schlomo is working on a kibbutz in Haifa, and we're schlepping him some kreplach."
Old Jewish Man: "Yep, we're Jewish, alright!"
- King Tooten Pooten from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, despite being of the ancient race that supposedly enslaved the Jews, speaks in this accent, complete with Yiddish phrases, like threatening to potch his grandson's tuchas.
- On Rugrats, Boris and Minka, Tommy Pickles' maternal grandparents, who actually are Eastern European (presumably Russian) Jews.
- Walter Wolf, the scheming nemesis of Slappy Squirrel on Animaniacs.
- Slappy too. Even if she isn't explicitly Jewish, she's been in show business so long she's picked it up.
- On Futurama, every single Decapodian is, at least to some extent, an Alter Kocker, though Harold Zoid and the ambassador take it Up to Eleven.
- Truffles from Chowder.
- In the two-part South Park episode "Do the Handicapped Go To Hell?"/"Probably", Pope John Paul II speaks this way - despite being the leader of the Catholic Church!
- Murray from The Cleveland Show.
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode where Rocko gets appendicitis, he's being taken to his hospital room, and an old goat with this accent says, "So you think you're sicker than me, eh? I've got boils on my bottom bigger than you! You wanna see?"
- He appears again during the "Spring Cleaning" Crowd Song in "Zanzibar."
- Also, Crazy Aunt Gretchen. To be fair, she is in an aquarium tank way too small for her.
- On Danny Phantom, Vlad Plasmius's ghostly hench-vultures all have Alter Kocker voices and mannerisms.
Vlad: I don't suppose you could move any faster?
Vulture Ghost: We are two thousands and eight years old, be happy we're moving at all!
Oi, you should only live so long...