Jewish shti(c)k (shtick, schtick, shtik)

perpend

Banned
American English
This might be more of a cultural question, but here's the context.

SNL. Saturday Night Live. A TV show in the USA.

Larry David has twice done a satire of Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the next presidential election in the USA.

I say to a (Jewish) friend: Oh, whatever, Larry David was just doing his Jewish shtick.

Not too longer after saying that, he "had to go".

Is Jewish shti(c)k polarizing? Does it have strong connotations?

EDIT: Sorry if it does.

EDIT 2.0: It's a comedic device, in my humble opinion.
 
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  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Shtick (that's the standard spelling, although according to the AHD, it's sometimes spelled schtick or shtik) can mean a characteristic trait or an entertainment routine (as, by a comedian). While it's of Yiddish origin, originally from German, it's widely used to mean what the dictionary says it means. We would normally say, for example, that Larry David did his Bernie Sanders shtick, and Key and Peele do a Barack Obama-and-Luther shtick.

    I've never heard anyone refer to Larry David's act as a "Jewish shtick", despite the fact that Sanders is Jewish.
     

    souplady

    Senior Member
    english - united states
    Shtick (that's the standard spelling, although according to the AHD, it's sometimes spelled schtick or shtik) can mean a characteristic trait or an entertainment routine (as, by a comedian). While it's of Yiddish origin, originally from German, it's widely used to mean what the dictionary says it means. We would normally say, for example, that Larry David was doing his Bernie Sanders shtick, and Key and Peele do a Barack Obama-and-Luther shtick.

    I've never heard anyone refer to a "Jewish shtick".
    I think that it can make sense for someone to do a "Jewish shtick" if they have a routine that they do that draws from Jewish stereotypes. If that were the case, then it would obviously be antisemitic, which is why I was asking for more context about the conversation. If perpend's Jewish friend really did "have to go" because he was offended and not just because he had to go (sometimes we think people are leaving because of something we did, when in reality they really just have somewhere else they need to be), it might not be the word itself that offended him but rather a dismissal of casual antisemitism, perhaps something that he felt hurt by.

    Not that I'm accusing perpend of being antisemitic, or saying anything about the SNL skit, which I haven't seen. Like I said, more context is needed.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    As mentioned above, I said it to a Jewish friend, who is very non-orthodox, but sometimes people get offended, just because they can. He is sometimes fickle.

    Shtick, I think is what Larry David did.

    I am the antithesis of anti-Semitic.

    Google the sketch, souplady, if you haven't already.
     

    souplady

    Senior Member
    english - united states
    As mentioned above, I said it to a Jewish friend, who is very non-orthodox, but sometimes people get offended, just because they can. He is sometimes fickle.

    Shtick, I think is what Larry David did.

    I am the antithesis of anti-Semitic.

    Google the sketch, souplady, if you haven't already.
    Okay, I watched the sketch.

    Again, I'm not accusing you of antisemitism, but I think if he was offended, it was not because of the word 'shtick' (which as far as I know, is a pretty benign word), but because of the content of what was said.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Again, I'm not accusing you of antisemitism, but I think if he was offended, it was not because of the word 'shtick' (which as far as I know, is a pretty benign word), but because of the content of what was said.

    Take care
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    There can be something very dismissive about the word shtick - not because it comes from Yiddish, but because it implies that the person was doing an act or a routine - a performance, or (even worse) a gimmick. It's not dismissive when you're talking about an actual performance, as it is when you refer to a comedian's shtick, but it is dismissive when the person you're referring to is supposed to be talking about something serious or meaningful. So when you refer to someone's "Jewish shtick" (referring to how that person demonstrates his religion) or "romantic shtick" or "humanitarian shtick" - that is, when you use the word shtick to refer to someone a person is supposed to be sincere about - it can be a dismissive word.

    There's something about shtick that suggests not only a performance but also something very superficial. I'm not sure its use in this example is "polarizing," perpend, but I'm also not sure it's saying what you meant to say. What did you mean by "Larry David is doing his Jewish shtick"?
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Larry David is Jewish. He's allowed to do things that are stereotypically Jewish without being accused of being anti-Semitic.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Back when the Catskill Mountains had a large number of resort hotels that usually had a comedian, it was referred to as the Borscht Belt, meaning it featured Jewish comedians performing typically Jewish skits. We always referred to this as simply "shtick" and in the 1950s and 1960s it was a Yiddish word and not in general usage. There was no reason to label it as "Jewish shtick" as "shtick" being a Yiddish word brought that concept to the table.

    Comedy in the Borscht Belt was typical "Jewish shtick", and most people of my age associate "shtick" with comedians of those venues.

    But many Yiddish words have been incorporated in the general language in the USA and "shtick" is one of them. So if it is used in its original context you now have to add "Jewish" to it, where you didn't have to do so 50 years ago.

    I don't find it antisemitic. It is simply language showing its ability to morph.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borscht_Belt

    "Borscht Belt, or Jewish Alps, is a colloquial term for the (now mostly defunct) summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in parts of Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties inupstate New York. These resorts were a popular vacation spot for New York CityJews from the 1920s up to the 1970s..."

    The article lists about 90 very famous to merely famous comedians that got their start in the Borscht Belt, including Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Milton Berle and Lenny Bruce.
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I agree with JustKate. If anyone was maligned by describing Larry David's impersonation as "Jewish shtick," it was Larry David. That is, you seem to have suggested that his impersonation was less of a careful character study of Sanders, and more David's version of the classic (rather than stereotypical) Jewish comedian persona.

    Incidentally, this seems like a plausible analysis to me. David's line, "I don't have a Super PAC; I don't even have a backpack. I just carry my things loose in my arms!" probably sounds more like Rodney Dangerfield (or just your typical schnook) than Bernie Sanders.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I agree with JustKate. If anyone was maligned by describing Larry David's impersonation as "Jewish shtick," it was Larry David. That is, you seem to have suggested that his impersonation was less of a careful character study of Sanders, and more David's version of the classic (rather than stereotypical) Jewish comedian persona.

    That's a good point. I don't see how it can be interpreted as saying anything negative about being Jewish, but it can be interpreted as saying something negative about Larry David, or at least his performance.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Oy vey. I have comments, but it will get too cultural. Thanks all!

    (Special thanks to Packard for #10. Priceless. You answered more questions than I had!)
     
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