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Alter Kocker

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"Sorry". "Oy vey..."
"Our Director of Elder Affairs is Al Takaka..."

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. Truth in Television, nearly all depictions of the Yiddish accent are spoken by older characters, particularly those who reached adulthood before 1945, due to cultural assimilation and the destruction of much of Europe's Jewish communities, leading to Yiddish no longer being commonly spoken among secular Jews in the United States, not to mention, the tendency of American Jews to try to avoid sounding ‘Jewish’ and therefore different to non-Jews out of fear of anti-Semitism, and historically many now-offensive stereotypical characters have been given this accent. The adoption of Hebrew as the national language of Israel also served to hasten the decline of Yiddish, now seen as outmoded and an indication of a lack of education.

Now that the older generation of Yiddish English speakers have almost died out outside of Hasidic communities, newer depictions often swap out the Yiddish accent for a working-class New York one with the occasional Yiddish word dropped in; the second and third generations are alter kackers now.

Incidentally, the phrase alter Kacker literally means "old shit[ter]." It's the Yiddish equivalent to the American slang phrase "old fart." Also incidentally, it means the exact same thing in German (Yiddish is closely related to German), though they mostly defecal it into alter Knacker which just means "old geezer".

Related to Informed Judaism. Compare Grumpy Old Man. Likely to exhibit Jewish Complaining and Jews Love to Argue. See Scratchy-Voiced Senior and Curse of The Ancients for other stereotypes about old people's speech.


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  • The Goldfish Under the Couch Cushion.
  • This Coffee Crisp commercial from the early 1990s.

    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.

  • The trademark character of French comedian Judka Herpstu, better known as Popeck.
  • French-Moroccan comedian Gad Elmaleh has the old grumpy Sephardic Jewish grandpa variant in his 2000 stage show La Vie Normale (Normal Life).

    Comic Books 
  • Silex and the City (a Stone Punk satire of modern French society) has the "archeo-Yiddish" Madame Finkelstein.
  • Sy Borgman from the New 52 Harley Quinn Comics fits this trope, too.
  • Maus: Vladek is a Holocaust survivor, but that doesn't excuse him from being a grumpy, miserly, racist, and generally unpleasant old man (while he tries to blame it on his experiences, it's pointed out other survivors are nowhere near as stingy as him).

    Films — Animated 
  • In Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, one of the Black Rabbits responsible for carrying souls to the afterlife is a straight-up Alter Kocker.
    "Yer dead, ya schmendrick!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Miracle Max and his wife in The Princess Bride. Miracle Max was, on VH-1's I Love The '80s, referred to as "a little Jewish troll." Max's being played by the then thirty-something Billy Crystal only makes it funnier.
  • Arthur from The Holiday...though he's one of a handful of old Jewish guys hanging out in LA, and he even refers to himself as an "old Kocker".
  • Mel Brooks is fond of playing these:
    • The Two Thousand Year Old Man is a very alter kocker.
    • Two characters pretend to be this in High Anxiety in order to get through airport security, hoping that being as loud and obnoxious as possible will make people ignore them.
    • Yogurt in Spaceballs is played as an old Jewish alien.
    • The Indian Chief in Blazing Saddles even speaks Hebrew.
  • Eddie Murphy plays one in Coming to America. The character, Sol, hangs out every day at the barbershop and tells a classic Jewish joke at the end of the credits.
  • In Snatch., the Jewish gangsters in the opening credits dress up like Alter Kocker, with Hasidic dress and Yiddish accents. Frankie Four Fingers' natural accent, however, is very Yiddish.
  • Julius Levinson in Independence Day is an old Jewish man who kvetches constantly and speaks Yiddish as a Second Language.
  • Dan Lauria's character in The Spirit, Commissioner Dolan, lampshades this trope: "I'm just an alter kocker, ya gotta gimme something to work with here." When the Spirit has to explain to Officer Morgenstern what this means, Dolan complains "Jews these days don't even know their own language."
  • Jackie Mason, in everything he's ever done.
  • Eddie Murphy's character pretends to be one in The Distinguished Gentleman when campaigning for Congress when his van drives through a Jewish neighborhood, throwing around Yiddish words. Of course, he is earlier revealed to be fluent in Yiddish.
    "I learned it from Morris Elfbein, da Gin King of Miami Beach! He taught me dat, and he also taught me ya don't always haff to haff da best cards ta win da hand."
  • Sleeper has two old Jewish robots who run a clothing shop, complete with yamulke-like head covers.
  • Nana, the feisty old lady from New York in the Madagascar films.
  • The old man who asks to use the employee bathroom in Clerks. Despite pestering Dante and grossing him out by asking for a nudie magazine, he's an otherwise friendly guy. Unfortunately, he ends up traumatizing Katelyn when he dies while masturbating on the toilet and she has sex with his corpse, assuming that it's Dante.
  • Many of the characters in Fiddler on the Roof

  • Isaac Asimov
  • In Ethan, Suspended, the title character's grandparents are this.
  • The Guns of the South: Mr. Goldfarb, a German immigrant and an associate of Judah P. Benjamin, is recruited by Lee to translate the Afrikaner language books.
  • The Princess Bride has the "old Jewish coot" Miracle Max and his wife, lampshaded by the Jewish-American author William Goldman (who claims he is adapting a centuries-old story).
  • Tricky Business gives us Arnie Pullman and Phil Hoffman, a pair of Miami nursing-home residents. They're certainly old enough for the trope (83 and 81, respectively), and their speech is peppered with little Yiddishisms: "bupkis", "we know from X" instead of "we know X", Word Schmord, etc. They're pretty good arguers, too.
  • In Borgel, Borgel's father is an old man who still lives in The Old Country and speaks only in Yiddish-accented yells (this is particularly strong in the audiobooks, where the author gives him a heavy Yiddish accent).
  • In Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the humorous story "The Viper" (itself a retelling of an old joke) relies on this trope for the punchline. An elderly woman living alone receives an anonymous phone call from a mysterious man who says "This is the Viper. I'm coming for you." The man keeps calling and saying he's getting closer and closer, panicking the woman. She tries summoning the police, but then hears a knock on the door, slowly opens it...and reveals a little old man standing with a bucket and rag. It's the Viper—and "he vishes to vipe and vash the vindows!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tommy Solomon (an alien who pretends to be a largely secular Jewish teen) in 3rd Rock from the Sun occasionally acts this way when he drops his cover. Of course, it was a 90s sitcom and they never showed the aliens' true forms, so this instance of the trope was personified by the (also Jewish) Joseph Gordon-Levitt. No accent, but he'd play up the patronizing crankiness and other mannerisms to a hilt on these occasions.
  • 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 Spaniel."
  • In later episodes of Boy Meets World, Cory seems to have matured into a full-blown Alter Kocker (having aged out of his Mouthy Kid phase) minus the accent, despite only being in his late teens. (The actor who plays him, Ben Savage, is Jewish.)
  • In Ugly Betty, when the title character dreamed of her and Daniel in the far future, they seem to have become this. 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.
  • 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. In one episode, he finds the local Indians using what he knows as Yiddish words, which turns out to be due to memories of a Jewish explorer. One mentions hearing a television show using “aldakaka, that’s one of our words.” When Joel confirms it’s Jewishness, he asks “Does it mean ‘wise and venerable one’?” “Well… yes.”
  • Several older characters on Seinfeld, including the Mandelbaums, George's parents, 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. Every single resident of the retirement condo where Helen and Morty lived, The Pines Of Mar Gables/Del Boca Vista, seems to be an Alter Kocker — especially Morty's arch enemy Jack Klompus.
  • Mayer in Lost Girl.
  • Ginsberg's father on Mad Men.
  • Mrs. Wolowitz, Howard's mother on The Big Bang Theory.
  • Albert "Pops" Solomon, Beverley's father (Adam's grandfather) in The Goldbergs — he could well be poster boy for this trope, especially since he's played by distinguished Jewish American thespian George Segal.
  • During Eddie Murphy's time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, one of his recurring characters was an elderly version of Gumby, having long retired from show business and become this type of personality in his old age.
    "I'm Gumby, dammit!"
  • In So Haunt Me, Yetta, the ghost of the Jewish Mother who haunts the Rokebey family home, is an old London Jew who talks in exactly this way.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has an episode titled "Alta Kockers", guest-starring Judd Hirsch and Wallace Shawn as a pair of elderly, presumably Jewish brothers.
  • Martin Short's Irving Cohen character from SCTV and SNL, a former tin-pan-alley songsmith, with a pronounced Yiddish accent and mannerisms.
  • Bernie Kibbitz on All That.

  • 2 Live Jews was a comedic Hip-Hop act from The '90s based on this trope, comprised of two rappers called MC Moisha (real name Eric Lambert) and Easy Irving (real name Joe Stone). Note that Lambert and Stone, though indeed Jewish, were much younger than the characters they portrayed.
  • Starting in The '70s, Rhino Records released several songs by a fictional band called Gefilte Joe & The Fish, with a Yiddish-accented singer doing Rock songs. Their "hits" included "Walk on the Kosher Side" (a rewrite of "Walk on the Wild Side", itself written by a Jewish man, lamenting Jews who turn their back on their heritage) and "Hanukkah Rocks", a celebration of the Feast of Lights (which was issued on Star-of-David-shaped vinyl).


  • In The '50s, Peter Sellers played an exaggerated Jewish character on The Goon Show, who was based very accurately on Cockney Jews who would' have talked like this. The stereotype that British Jews all spoke in Yiddish-flavoured Cockney London accents took a long time to die from radio and television in Britain.
  • One of the numerous Punny Names listed at the end of every episode of Car Talk is Al Takaka, Director of Elder Affairs.

    Real Life 
  • When Joe Lieberman received the Democrat nomination for Vice-President, the New York Observer headline about the reaction to the first Jew on a major party ticket was “Alte Kocke Shaken, Pishers (roughly “greenhorns” or “whippersnappers”) Are Thrilled”.


  • Lampshaded, then doubly subverted by Jakob in Everyday Heroes.
  • Vampire Girl: Sigfred N. LeRoy. Given that it's a webcomic, one wouldn't know, but Word of God is that his voice would sound similar to John Byner's impersonation of Jackie Mason. His word balloons do indicate that he ends his sentences with a bit of a flourish.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • 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!
  • Popenlocken from the episode 'King Tooten Pooten' of 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 are straight examples.
  • 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.
    • A gag character of a spider on a toilet in "Leapfrogs" is portrayed as this: "Hey, vad iz dis, a sideshow?!"
  • 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!
  • Mervin the magician in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode "King Mario of Cramalot".
  • Mixels has Nurp-Naut, a character made up of two entities: a baby and an elder, in one body with a swapping head. To emphasize that Naut is the elder, he's given this accent.
  • In an episode of Superman: The Animated Series where Mr. Mxyzptlk's fifth-dimensional powers are taken away from him, the tribunal to which he must answer has a definite flavor of "old Jewish men".
  • Harley Quinn (2019)
    • Sy Borgman, Ivy's Retired Monster landlord, played by Jason Alexander, is a cranky former secret agent from Israel.
    • In first-season finale, Clayface tries to disguise himself as an elderly wolf-man with a Yiddish accent. When Doctor Psycho asks why his character is Jewish, Clayface simply responds, "I took a swing."
  • Super Duper Sumos: Wisdom-san, the sumos' master, is an elderly blue man with a Yiddish accent.
  • Jellystone!: In this series, Lippy the Lion is an elderly man with a pronounced Yiddish accent. He even says "Meshuggah" at one point.

Oy, you should only live so long...

Alternative Title(s): Alter Kacker