Simply put, the stereotype that Jewish people are thrifty with their cash and liable to complain about having to spend it. Being smart with money actually is part of Jewish culture, for various reasons, but this trope is about exaggerating that aspect to comic levels. Jews aren't just good with money, but really cheap. They won't spend money if they don't have to, even if it's a necessity. They would haggle with anyone over anything (especially since Jews Love to Argue). This kind of joke comes especially from Jews themselves (so doesn't always carry the Unfortunate Implications of similar tropes).
By the way, this doesn't preclude Conspicuous Consumption, just that they will make it clear they got it at a better price. Usually they "know a guy" who can give them a fantastic discount on something, possibly because it Fell Off the Back of a Truck (although they would never stoop to actual stealing, themselves).
This is a Lighter and Softer successor to the old Greedy Jew stereotype. Do not confuse the two. Even this trope borders on N-Word Privileges as, like any ethnic stereotype, it can be quite offensive when coming from an outsider.
In Great Britain, this trope is less common, since Jews are a much smaller and less culturally-represented minority, and their economical niche is filled by Scotsmen, a never-failing source of British ethnic jokes. Yorkshiremen also have this reputation, especially among other Northerners. Welsh people point at Cardis - people from West Wales.note In France, the Normans have this reputation; in Germany it's Swabians, Westphalians and (among Westphalians) people from Lippe; In Spain, the Catalans; In Sweden, Smålanders. Parsimony is also seen as a peculiarly Prussian trait. In Northern Europe, the Dutch and the Finns tend to have a reputation of frugality. In modern times, thriftiness is often a trait associated with East Asians especially the Chinese. note
I can't afford to pay for all of these examples. I'm a Jew:
- The American Splendor episode "Standing Behind Old Jewish Ladies in Supermarkets" is about the various incidents the narrator observes of old Jewish ladies trying to get discounts. At the end of the story, he's astonished to encounter an old Jewish lady who actually gives back the extra change the cashier gave her by accident.
- In Maus, Art Spiegelman's dad is... well... a walking racial stereotype, going to comical lengths to avoid spending money (including taking back half eaten boxes of cereal to a supermarket and harassing the manager until he actually gets a refund for the uneaten portions.) This brought some heat that the book was promoting racism, except Art was simply chronicling things his father did while he wrote the comic. The first pages of the second book shows Art's fear of portraying his father's behavior. Vladek defends himself by saying he's obsessive over money because careful manipulation of very scarce resources is what saved his life many times. Vladek's wife, Mala, on the other hand, comments that they both have Holocaust survivors in their families, and Vladek is the only one they know who behaves this way.
- Don Jacoibo, a previous character in Condorito, was a very amoral Jewish loan shark.
- In her film Jesus Is Magic, Sarah Silverman performs a song that begins, "I love you like bears love honey / I love you like Jews love money."
- The mother in Taking Woodstock. She turns out to have a huge stash of money in the end, she just was tight with the money to keep her son helping around the motel.
- In the "Jewsploitation" film The Hebrew Hammer, the title character tells his Black Best Friend that a "Stereotype Alarm" in the villain's base will go off if they do something stereotypical, and he then lists a series of classic black racial stereotypes (including playing basketball and eating watermelon). His friend explains that, despite his pride in his heritage and membership in the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, he does not exemplify these stereotypes, but then the Hammer picks up a penny from the floor thinking that Raheem had dropped it, setting off the alarm.
- An earlier scene had him and Esther escaping from a mob via the Jewish Underground - which played like an amusement park ride through Jewish history, including awful scenes of their persecution throughout history that both she and Mordecai laugh at... until they see a Jewish woman getting her credit card declined at Macy's, at which point both become somber.
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, failure to haggle in the market is a surefire way to attract a lot of unwanted attention.
- In A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Seth Goldstein (who has recently converted to Christianity) asking Kumar to pay back the 57 cents that he owes is taken as a sign that he is still a Jew at heart.
- In Humoresque, Leon's Jewish father doesn't want to fork over $4 to buy Leon a violin at a thrift store. It's $4 in early 20th century money, but still. A bit of humor follows as Leon's father tries to convince him that a kazoo and a music box are just as good.
- The House of Rothschild: Even a movie about antisemitism can't resist this joke. A cabbie complains about the small tip he got from Nathan Rothschild—the richest Jew in Europe—saying that even Nathan's daughter Julie tips him more. Nathan shoots back that Julie has a rich father, but he doesn't.
- Once, God sent an angel to Earth, to bring the most worthy people the Ten Commandments. At first, the angel went to... the USA and greeted them:
Angel: "People of God's own country, I bring you God's commandments! The first one says 'Thou shalt not kill' -"Americans: "What?! Are you one of those commie pacifist anti-capital-punishment pinkoes? Piss off!"
Frustrated, the angel goes to France instead and tries it again:Angel: "People of the country where God would like to live, I bring you God's commandments! The first one says 'Thou shalt not kill'; the second one 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' -"Frenchmen: "What!? You want us to give up our menage a trois? Get out!"
Very frustrated, the angel walks on Earth and finally finds the Jews.Angel: "Dear Jews, I bring you God's commandments! The first one says -"Jews: "Cut it, just tell us how much it'll cost us!"Angel:' "Why, cost? The Ten commandments don't cost anything!"Jews:' "What, they're free? Sure, we'll take all of them!"
- A Jewish son went to his Jewish father to ask for $20 to go to the movies. His father said "$20? What do you need $10 dollars for at the movies? Fine, here's your $5!"
- Did you hear about the Jewish car? It not only stops on a dime, but it picks the dime up.
- Via Stephen Fry's grandfather: "Do you know why we have such big noses? Because air is free."
- Implied in a joke that requires a visual:
- A newly-widowed Jewish woman comes home with her husbands ashes and spreads them over the coffee table. "Harry?" she says to the ashes "Remember that fur coat I always wanted? I'm wearing it now. The insurance money, Harry. Remember the nice car I always wanted? It's out in the driveway. The insurance money, Harry. You know that blow job you always wanted, Harry?" [Mimic blowing the ashes off the table.]
- Q: Why does a fifty pence coin have seven sides? A: so you can get it out of a Jew's hand with a spanner.
- Harry Kemelman's Rabbi series often involves this in its plots.
- The Left Behind series uses this trope, falling firmly on the Unfortunate Implications end of the scale.
- Ephraim Kishon called himself a cheapskate, although this was well justified by the high taxes in Israel.
- An older example is the Jewish Doctor in Arabian Nights sub-story "The Hunchback's Tale" who thinks about money when he hears a patient comes to visit, but is portrayed as a sympathetic character and a competent doctor.
- In the World War series, RAF radar operator David Goldfarb is always careful to be generous, so that his friends don't accuse him of this trope.
- The Daily Show: Jon Stewart makes jokes about this, like with comparing Yom Kippur to Lent: "Forty days, to one day. Even in sin, you're paying retail!"
- Jerry's family in Seinfeld. His father takes particular pride in finding merchandise that is so cheap that it might be stolen.
- Ross Geller from Friends (but not his sister, Monica).
- In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, despite being a half-billionaire, is portrayed as being even worse than George Costanza, his Seinfeld alter-ego, when it comes to money. Larry is rather often characterized as a "cheap Jew" in his endless quibbling and penny pinching over tips, bills, and other minor sums that he shouldn't really care about in his financial position. In contrast, on the show, the actual Jason Alexander (who is also Jewish) is shown tipping both generously and anonymously, much to Larry's annoyance. He usually "justifies" it by going on tangents about various social conventions, riffs on which Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld run on.
- It was a little subtle, but Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show was Jewish and always had "a guy" for anything you wanted to get cheaply.
- In one episode of Knowing Me Knowing You, a Jewish comedian is guesting, and Alan asks him to tell a joke about Jews, which he does. Alan responds, to general disgust, with:
Alan: ...Did you hear about the Jewish hotel keeper? He kept a fork in the sugar bowl.
- The Two Ronnies snuck in a joke about Disraeli combining the stereotype with real 19th century politics.
Voter: Don't you think the Turks were wrong to order wholesale slaughter in the Balkans?
Disraeli: It would have been wrong to order it retail.
- The Nanny. Fran is something of a played with example. Fran was an avid Fashionista and frequently mentioned having her credit cards maxed out, including an episode dealing with being a shopping addict. On the other, she was shown to be rather thrifty about it, favoring outlet malls, shoving her feet into too-small shoes that were on sale, and showing that some of her clothes came from having designer Todd Oldham as a cousin. Her family plays it much more straight: Grandma Yetta apparently recycled tea bags, Sylvia would buy cheap shoes and put them in the freezer so they'd be less painful, and she apparently taught Fran such tips as "why buy Sweet-n-Low when restaurants give it away" and "suck the innards out of chocolate covered cherries before they weigh the bag."
- In the episode of The Sopranos where Tony's debts with his Jewish friend and loan shark Hesh grows out of control, he complains about him fitting this trope to his shrink. She responds by saying that it's an ugly stereotype. In a first-season episode Hesh does almost spoil Tony's and Johnny Sack's plan to bail Hesh himself out of some hock with Junior, who has instituted a retroactive tax on Hesh's businesses upon becoming boss. Junior listens and "magnanimously" lowers the rate, and the back taxes owed to "three hundred". Before anyone else can react, Hesh says, "Two-fifty!" There's a moment of brittle silence, and then Junior smiles. "What did I tell you? Hang on to your cock when you negotiate with these desert people!"
- Showing how old this particular trope is, Officer and a Gentleman Lucius Vorenus on Rome enlists the aid of Hebrew bodyguard/mercenary Timon - for a price - in the second season.
Vorenus: Fair enough. I expected no public service from a Jew.
- One character on The Young Ones (played by Arnold Brown) plays with this trope by describing himself as being "Scottish and Jewish - two racial stereotypes for the price of one!"
- Works on multiple levels because in the UK the Scots are also commonly stereotyped as being cheapskates, and two of anything for the price of one would therefore appeal to them, too.
- In an episode of the American version of Shameless, Frank tries to sell a gold watch to a Jewish pawnbroker. After clumsily trying to get in the pawnbroker's favor by talking about how he thinks the Israelis should just smash up the Palestinians (The pawnbroker supports a 2 state solution) Frank gets annoyed when the pawnbroker won't raise his offered price, saying that he's "Jewing him down" incorrectly.
- In Freaks and Geeks, Neil Schweiber is discussing negative stereotypes with an unnamed black character, claiming Jews have it much worse because "Last year, I was elected school treasurer. I didn't even run!"
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi." The eponymous rabbi "won't pay retail price," but "if you want to haggle, oy! He'll make you such a deal!"
- Rap group Clipse's "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)" gives us:
17 a brick, yeah, go and tell 'em thatI got the wamp wamp when I move it its still dampMildew-ish when I heat it, it turn bluishIt cools to a tight wad, the Pyrex is Jewish
- Macklemore caught some criticism for performing in a costume that a lot of people saw as an anti-Semitic stereotype (it included, among other things, a hook nose taken from a witch mask). He claimed the Unfortunate Implications were a coincidence, but it didn't help his case that the song he was performing was "Thrift Shop", a song about picking up goods on the cheap.
- Jack Benny of The Jack Benny Program. Perhaps it bears mentioning that his birth name was "Benjamin Kubelsky." His stage persona (not his real-life personality) was one of the most titanic cheapskates in all of comedy, and provided him with what is widely regarded as one of the funniest exchanges in the history of radio:
Mugger: Your money or your life.(long pause)Mugger: I said, your money or your life!Jack: I'm thinking it over!!
- Jack Benny is kind of an unusual example of this, as while his persona is a perfect example of this trope, that persona wasn't explicitly Jewish and was more of a WASP if anything. Thus, his being a Jewish stereotype/being played by a Jewish actor is sort of subtext.
- A popular radio show presenter was dropped from commercial radio in the north of England. The reason was that he created an on-air persona intended to be the meanest, tightest, most close-fisted miserly person anywhere in the world. To reinforce the point, he brought together the two ethnicities universally most regarded as being, er, careful with money, and created the Twofer character of Angus McGoldstein (Scottish and Jewish). Listeners were not amused and cases were brought.
- Russell Peters has a bit about how this stereotype is extremely offensive... to Indians. Because they're the cheapest ethnic group and damn proud of it, so why should the Jews get the reputation for it?
Russell: People are like "Jews are cheap!". We're like [Indian accent] "No, that is very incorrect. I am cheap. Jews are thrifty. BIIIIIG difference."
- In The Bible when the Lord announces his intention to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because the people are sinful, Abraham haggles with God over how many righteous men in the city would be enough to spare it—and specifically, his innocent nephew Lot. In the end, there aren't enough righteous residents, but Lot and his daughters get out anyway. The "Lot and his daughters" thing becomes a problem not too long after...
- Jacob, later known as "Israel", managed to buy his brother Esau's inheritance with a bowl of lentil stew. Although this was not so much Jacob being cheap as it was Esau selling his birthright too easily. (Lentil stew is delicious—ask anyone who's had it done well—but really...)
- One Islamic legend says that God originally commanded all Muslims to pray 500 times a day, and when Muhammad was returning home thinking how can such a commandment be fulfilled, he met Moses who (remembering how hard it was for his people to keep all of the 613 enumerated commandments) sent him back to God to haggle about the amount. Twice. That's why Muslims pray only five times a day. And Moses advised Muhammad to go back a third time, to get it down to three or even one, but Muhammad, not being a Jew, lacked the chutzpah (and taste for arguing) to keep the bargaining going.
- Hinted at in Everyday Heroes, when Lee Free (the oldest one) convinces the arcade manager to let Summer and Carrie Work Off the Debt for the damages they caused... then turns around and charges them for his legal services. However, since it only took him two minutes of work, at his regular hourly rate, his fee amounts to five dollars total (or, as he puts it, "lunch at Taco Bell").
- Some bullies mock Ferris with this in Fishbones.
- Angel Schmaltzy of Big O Abridged is this, as seen in Episodes 3 and 4.
- Oh, and Cassius 614, who does the voice, is Jewish.
- In another Abridged Series, Ranma Abridged uses this with Ryoga. (The creators are Jewish, and turned Ryoga into a Jew for their series.)
Ranma: Hey, I liked that shirt! I got it on sale.
Ryoga: Big deal! I could have haggled it down to even less!
- On Steam Train, Danny (who is Jewish) admitted that this stereotype always confused him:
Danny: That is the dumbest stereotype, who doesn't love money? Everyone loves money.
- When Chapo Trap House reviewed a documentary by Dinesh D'Souza, they observed that the film's demonization of Saul Alinsky (known for writing the book Rules For Radicals) seemed to rely on this stereotype rather than the usual right-wing methods of smearing him as a nefarious lefty demagogue.
- Gets some use on Drawn Together. For example, Clara's anti-Jew scarecrow, which looks like a waiter with a sign saying "Tips please" on it.
- Family Guy tends to do this a lot, partially because one of its creators is Jewish.
- "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein," where Peter wants to find a Jew to do his accounts (the person he finds, a Jewish accountant, points out that this is an unfair stereotype).
- In another episode Flashback Twist, Peter tries to pass himself off as a Hasidic Jew to get off work. At a synagogue, he strikes up a conversation filled with this stereotype and gets kicked in the groin.
Peter: Hey, how about all those coupons in the Sunday paper, huh? Some good deals there. Hey, y'know, I went into a store last week and they wanted 800 bucks for a TV, but I "ussed" him down to 500.
- They even go Up to Eleven and pull this on Jesus, where he delivers an Aesop on religion. Peter asks Jesus to prove he's Jewish by calculating a 10% tip on a $180 bill.
Jesus: Eighteen dollars, which is fair!
- In the episode where Meg turns to a life of crime and robs the pharmacy Mort tells her she can take the donation money for children with cancer since he never gives it to them anyway.
- And in the same scene, when Brian is trying to use a magazine article to convince her not to go through with the robbery, Mort complains "This isn't a library!"
- In "Road to Germany" Mort gets sent back into the past and mistakes the presence of his relatives as that he's in heaven, going out of his way to add titles of cheapness to their names, such as frugal, thrifty and "didn't like to spend a lot of money on anything."
- In "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie", Stewie and his new girlfriend, Penelope put a bomb in Mort's wallet, which will explode when he opens it. Two weeks pass, and Mort is still okay.
- In "Burning Down the Bayit", Peter has difficulty explaining the concept of 'Buy one, get one free' to Mort who only hears non-sensical gibberish. Though only in reference to doing it in his own store since he hears the phrase just fine when Peter brings up a theoretical store doing the same offer, and asks him excitedly which store it is.
- In a Robot Chicken skit where Seth McFarlane has the power to setup Cutaway Gags, he brings up the idea of Scooby Jew. Cut to a stereotypically-dressed Scooby haggling over Scooby snacks in exchange for going into a haunted house.
- South Park:
Kyle Schwartz: You— you paid your friends to not make fun of me?
- Kyle's cousin plays this for laughs, along with other New England Jew stereotypes.
Kyle: Look, it's not because anything's wrong with you.
Kyle Schwartz: Wow, uh, you think it takes $40 to get people to like me?
Kyle: Kyle, I— I'm sorry.
Kyle Schwartz: Because, I mean, I really think you could have done it for about $12.50.
- Kyle himself gets this in "Fun With Weapons;" he thinks he should dump his weapons so he can deny he ever had them, but Cartman smirks and tells him he would never allow himself to throw away something he spent money on. He's right.
- Cartman at one point demands the small sack of gold from Kyle that he states all Jews carry. Kyle actually does carry gold on him. Not only that, but he carries a bag of fake gold just in case someone tries to take the gold.
- Subverted in "Night of the Living Homeless" when Kyle gives a homeless man $20. Because of that, all of the homeless invade South Park. But it turns out that it wasn't Kyle's fault, but the fault of the neighboring town of Evergreen, who exiled the homeless.
- And then subverted majorly in "Margaritaville" when he uses his American Express credit card (with no spending limit) to pay off the debts of all of South Park, much to the dismay of his mother Sheila, who say he's ruining himself. However, this is almost a double subversion as the entire episode has Kyle as a Christ allegory, equating his taking on said debt with Christ's martyrdom.
- Ends up in Static Shock of all places. At Frieda's Chanukah party, the lights go out (due to super villain hyjinks) and one of the guests, who is presumably also Jewish, jibes Frieda's dad that he was probably too cheap to pay the electric bill.
- Inverted by Futurama's Dr. Zoidberg. Not only is he established as being terrible with money (easily falling for scams or buying multiple items from infomercials), but (more positively) "The Tip of the Zoidberg" reveals that he was perfectly willing to sacrifice a lucrative career for the sake of Prof. Farnsworth's friendship.