Jews are, perhaps, the originators of the modern Nerd
stereotype. Why? Maybe their long, scholarly tradition, maybe their immigrant past (comparable to Asian and Nerdy
and the Bollywood Nerd
), maybe their overbearing Education Mamas
, maybe for some other weird reason. But for whatever reason, you will rarely see a stupid Jew on TV (unless they're more of a Ditzy Genius
or Genius Ditz
This can, of course, bring up controversy as to what, exactly, constitutes a nerd, whether Jewish or otherwise. Is a nerd any extremely smart person, or an extremely smart person without social skills, or
an extremely smart person without social skills and
a grotesque appearance? Then, of course, there's the controversy over what makes a person Jewish: is it race, religion, or a certain cultural je ne sais quoi
? Whatever the case, there have been many "nerdy" people wearing eyeglasses who have been mistaken for Jews, and vice versa. (It sounds like a joke
, but it did happen often in the past, so much that Arthur Miller actually wrote a play about the concept.)
Compare Asian and Nerdy
and Bollywood Nerd
, two other ethnic nerd stereotypes; and Hollywood Nerd
for the general appearance. Contrast Matzo Fever
and Black and Nerdy
, both inversions of a more prevalent ethnic stereotype. Intelligence as a character trait may lead to instances of Ambiguously Jewish
, thanks to this trope.
Anime and Manga
- Billy/Wiccan from Young Avengers. In a team where every member is some degree of Ascended Fanboy, he's still one of the biggest nerds, and goes from Ambiguously Jewish to canonically Jewish during The Children's Crusade.
- Gert(rude Yorkes) from Runaways
- Kitty Pride from X-Men; in the comic she wears a Star of David necklace.
- Jessica Stein, from Kissing Jessica Stein, is a huge literature and grammar nerd.
- Insert Woody Allen, Jeff Goldblum or Rick Moranis character here.
- All of the Jewish Harvard students in The Social Network. The Jewish fraternity's party is pretty lame and filled with nerdy looking guys.
- Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle: Rosenberg and Goldstein — Harold and Kumar's neighbors.
- While Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters (and its various Spin Offs) is only Ambiguously Jewish, he's a stellar example of the trope.note
- The title character in Barton Fink is a particularly tormented example.
- Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz) in The Addams Family Values.
- According to writer Travis Beacham, Dr. Hermann Gottlieb of Pacific Rim has Jewish ancestry but is non-practicing.
- Subverted by Donald "Boone" Schoenstein (Peter Riegert) in Animal House. Though Ambiguously Jewish, he is arguably the fourth coolest guy in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, as well as The Lancer to the supercool Eric "Otter" Stratton. (His girlfriend does think he's a loser, though.)
- Marv Murchens (Daniel Stern) of the Home Alone movies is a double subversion. Though certainly geeky in appearance, he has a mind scarcely superior to that of a young child. However, on occasion he will be the voice of reason and more intelligent than his partner.
- "The Bear Jew" in Inglorious Basterds is about as far away from the trope as one can get.
- The entire Emmerich family line from the Metal Gear series, but Otacon most of all.
- Jerry Lewis, especially in The Nutty Professor.
- Andy Kaufman. Though not quite a stereotypical nerd, he was very much a loner as a child. Plus he came from a very Jewish family (his parents wore yarmulkes to his funeral).
- Logan Lerman.
- Albert Einstein.
- Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.
- Eddie Deezen
- Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens had an Israeli father.)
- Andrew Garfield
- Seth Green
- Rick Moranis (a Canadian-Jew)
- Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal are both often mentioned in discussions about "nerd chic", and are practically the poster children for both Nerds Are Sexy and Matzo Fever.
- Leelee Sobieski
- Noam Chomsky
- Josh Gad: Stated in an interview that he's a huge Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fan, plus many of the characters he plays are nerdy.
- Pennant-winning MLB general managers Jon Daniels, Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman.
- Mayim Bialik (yes, the girl from Blossom. She's a neuroscientist now!)
- Natalie Portman, probably the most famous person with an Erdos-Bacon number and a Harvard Graduate.
- Marcel Marceau could be an example, if you consider mime to be a nerdy hobby.
- Let's throw Adam Sandler in there, too.