Oy, Oy, AI: What ChatGPT Can Tell Us About Jewish Jokes

By | Aug 07, 2023
Arts & Culture, Featured, Humor, Latest
Man holding parrot

In the last few months, I’ve asked ChatGPT to explain a lot of things to me that I can now pretend to explain to others. For example, what does the GPT part of ChatGPT stand for? Here’s what, straight from the horse’s mouth: The “GPT” part of ChatGPT stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer.”

If you like, you can then go down the rabbit hole to further interrogate each part of that explanation with ChatGPT, and it will not flag or fail. It will go on to the end. It will never surrender, or maybe that’s Winston Churchill. Oratory aside, ChatGPT is a good explainer on most things people want explained.

One thing most people don’t want explained are jokes. Because if you have to explain a joke…yada yada. BUT, if a joke is already bona fide boffo funny, an explanation might help us appreciate it even more. So, Moment readers, welcome to a new online feature, in which I will present you with a Jewish joke, and we’ll see if ChatGPT can dazzle us with its take. I’ll even throw in an AI-generated image to go with it!

First up: The Jewish Parrot Joke:

Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home one day. He was wishing something wonderful would happen to his life when he passed a pet store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish: “Quawwwwk…vus macht du…!”

Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. He couldn’t believe it! Meyer stood in front of an African Grey that cocked his little head and said: “Vus? Kenst reddin Yiddish?”

In a matter of moments, Meyer purchased the bird and carried the parrot home. All night long he talked with the parrot…in Yiddish. The parrot listened while sharing some walnuts.

The next morning, Meyer began saying his prayers. The parrot wanted to pray, too. Meyer handmade a miniature yarmulke for the parrot. The parrot also wanted to read Hebrew, so Meyer spent months teaching him the Torah.

 On Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose, got dressed, and was about to leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that a synagogue was not a place for a bird, but the parrot pleaded and was carried to the synagogue on Meyer’s shoulder.

Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the rabbi. At first, the rabbi refused to allow a bird into the building on the High Holy Days, but Meyer convinced him that the parrot could pray. Thousands of dollars were wagered on whether the parrot would pray or not.

All eyes were on the two of them during services. The parrot was still perched on Meyer’s shoulder as one prayer and song passed and then another, then another…but the parrot didn’t say a word. Annoyed, Meyer said “Pray, parrot! You can pray…do it now while everybody’s looking at you!” The parrot said nothing.

After services were over, Meyer realized he owed the synagogue over four thousand dollars. He marched home, saying nothing. Finally, several blocks from the temple, the bird began to sing an old Yiddish song.

Meyer stopped and looked at him. “You miserable bird…you cost me thousands of dollars today. Why? After I taught you the morning prayers, taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And, after you begged me to bring you to a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah…Why did you do this to me?”

“Don’t be a schmuck,” the parrot replied. “Think of the odds we’ll get on Yom Kippur!”


And now (drum roll…) for the ChatGPT explanation:

This story is funny for several reasons:

  1. Unexpectedness: The surprise factor plays a big role. We do not expect a parrot to learn Yiddish, prayers, or even to attend synagogue, which creates a humorous premise.
  2. Intelligence of the Parrot: The parrot is portrayed as far cleverer than Meyer (and the reader!) realizes until the very end. The parrot’s long game strategy is revealed with the punchline, leading to an outburst of laughter.
  3. The Punchline: The humor culminates in the unexpected punchline, suggesting that the parrot intentionally remained silent to improve the odds for a bigger bet on Yom Kippur—essentially, playing the long con. This completely overturns the preceding narrative of the parrot as an innocent creature eager to adopt religious customs.
  4. Cultural References: This joke includes many elements present in Jewish humor: self-deprecation, adversity (losing all that money), wit (of the parrot) and a punchline that relies on a foundation of Jewish culture and tradition.

I mean, wow. That’s impressive. Now if it could create a Jewish joke, that would be truly delightful or very, very scary. We will see in the next installment of Oy, Oy, AI.

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