Jon Stewart and Jason Bateman Shmooze in Yiddish

The great Yiddishist Leo Rosten was hopefully rolling (with laughter) in his grave last night. The late author of the book “The Joy of Yiddish” worked very hard during his lifetime to bring the dying Yiddish language into the mainstream.

Last night’s five minute dialogue between actor Jason Bateman and Jon Stewart included more Yiddish words than we typically hear on television. It was as if Bateman wanted to drop some of his well-rehearsed Yiddishisms during his interview on The Daily Show. As soon as Jason Bateman sat down he told Jon Stewart that his “It’s nice when nice happens to nice” opening comment sounded very Yiddish. And from there it became a Yiddish word competition between the two men.

Jon Stewart and Jason Bateman Speak Yiddish on the Daily Show

Jason Bateman explained that he recently learned the Yiddish word “chazerai” which seemed to confuse the Jewish host of The Daily Show (the former Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) who mistakenly said the word means a guy who’s a bit of a chazer (pig). Bateman correctly defined chazerai as garbage, but Stewart disagreed. At the end of the show Stewart actually returned to publicly apologize to Bateman for correcting his Yiddish since chazerai indeed does mean garbage.

Bateman then threw out mishegas and Stewart responded with meshugena. The conversation then turned to Bateman’s self-identification as a goy (gentile) and his experience at a friend’s Passover seder. Here’s the video of them shmoozing on the show last night:

Zei gezunt to Jason Bateman and Jon Stewart… and thanks for the early freilich Purim gift!