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Jewish Complaining
Hey, at least with the dying, their Earthly problems will soon be over. Jewish people still have to deal with...

"Jews don't sing and pray. They complain. And eat."
Tom Levitt, Smash

All right, all right! I'll describe Jewish Complaining here already! There, are you happy now?

Jews have a long, proud history of whining and complaining (aka, "kvetching"), or at least the Ashkenazi do. They will complain about many things, in many forms, whether it's Hypochondria (Oh God, can you catch something from writing that?), having to go to work, having to come home from work, paying too much for something, paying too little for something and worrying it's not good, their friends' bad habits, their friends' good habits, their Jewish Mothers thinking they aren't good enough, or the mothers themselves thinking their children aren't good enough.

This is Truth in Television, and is actually joked about more among Jews themselves than anyone who's ever been prejudiced against them. Heck, if you see a TV show with Jewish people being big whiners, it's more than likely a Jew wrote those parts.

But when things get truly serious, the complaining tends to die down as they get more somber. This comes from the actual history of the habit: superstitious Jews believed showing happiness or satisfaction brought the Evil Eye, so they complained to ward off the demon world. Actual misfortune "fills the need" for misfortune in keeping demons away, and may well already have been caused by a demon, so why ward them off when they're already here?

Jews Love to Argue is a Sister Trope. Hey, a lot of arguing among Jews is often just them complaining about each other at the same time.

The Greeks do this too: it is called gana.

Compare Sickly Neurotic Geek.


Examples:

Comics
  • Vladek the main character in Maus does complain a lot in the present day.

Film
  • The Hebrew Hammer uses this as the final test the "Jewish Justice League" has to gain entrance. It also turns out to be part of a Jew's ultimate weapon.
  • Woody Allen was famous for his characters doing this. In Annie Hall he tells a Jewish joke that he believes summarizes life: "Two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of 'em says, 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.' The other one says, 'Yeah, I know, and such small portions.'" Thus, Jews will complain about everything, even if they want more of it.
  • In The Sunshine Boys, George Burns and Walter Matthau play old vaudevillians. They're each a Grumpy Old Man, but the Alter Kocker is the grumpier.
  • Mushnik in The Little Shop of Horrors (and the recursive adaptation Little Shop of Horrors).

Live-Action TV
  • In Seinfeld, Estelle Costanza complains about everything, which leads to arguments with her Roman Catholic husband Frank who complains just as much. Helen Seinfeld complains about Jerry's career as a comedian, thinking that there isn't much money in it (despite plenty of evidence to the contrary). As a consequence she constantly sends his gifts back and he in turn will not accept money from them.
  • In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David complains about things even when it's socially unacceptable to do so. Susie Greene is the queen of this trope, however. She spends her whole time calling Larry a 'bald-headed freak' and her husband Jeff a 'fat fuck' because they do something that annoys her and she finds out about it.
  • Jon Stewart loves joking about this, usually with some overlap into Jews Love to Argue. ("Black people have blues music, while Jews complain. We just never thought about putting it to music.")
    • Hilariously used when Jon Stewart sliced his hand open while parodying Anthony Weiner's press conference.
      John Oliver: You're fine! Stop being so fucking Jewish about it!
  • Ross Geller from Friends is sometimes criticized from being too whiny. He realizes this when he starts a relationship with Janice (who's considered to be the most annoying woman in the world by the gang) and she breaks up with him because she finds his whining annoying.
  • Saturday Night Live had an It's a Wonderful Life parody (it wasn't the one from season 12 where everyone gets revenge on Mr. Potter; this was from season 36) in which the movie was originally supposed to be a Hanukkah movie instead of a Christmas one — including a lot of Jewish people (save for the characters played by Jimmy Stewart {Jason Sudeikis}, Donna Reed {Abby Elliott}, and the daughter {Nasim Pedrad}) and a lot of this trope and Jews Love to Argue.

Stand-Up Comedy

Theatre
  • Done a number of times in Fiddler on the Roof, especially by Tevye, including once as a way to save face after he finally gave his blessing to one of his daughters after she married a Gentile.
    • Yenta is also a big fan of kvetching, but hers is a lot more shameless.
  • Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors.
    Look, God, what an existence I got. Misfit employees, bums on the sidewalk, business is lousy, my life is a living hell...
  • Evan plays with it in 13 . Archie lampshades this trope during 'Terminal Illness'
    Evan: And who could complain?
    Archie: Except for you because you're Jewish and you always complain!
  • The opening number from the musical March of the Falsettos is titled "Four Jews In A Room Bitching." (Well, technically, one of them is by his own admission only half-Jewish, but it doesn't stop him from bitching.)

Webcomics

Western Animation

Religion and Mythology
  • All the way back to the Torah. In Numbers 11:5, the people complain that all they have to eat is manna from heaven, whereas in Egypt they had eaten fish. Even G-d lost patience.

Statler: I don't think that these Jewish people should complain about everything all the time.
Waldorf: I agree! That's our job!
Both: Doh-hoh-hoh-hoh!
Jewish and NerdyA Nice Jewish IndexJewish Mother
Grumpy Old ManComplaining IndexMisery Poker
Jewish and NerdyCharacterization TropesJews Love to Argue
Jeweler's Eye LoupeComedy TropesThe Jinx
Inspirationally DisadvantagedAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Jews Love to Argue

alternative title(s): Kvetching
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