Navigate to News section

Parks and Wreck

This week in Jewcy: Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, Pawnee’s holy fool

The Editors
January 18, 2013

Each Friday we bring you a look at what’s going on over at, our partner site. This week, the Network Jews series offers a few good reasons to love Ben Schwartz’s wacky Parks and Recreation character, Jean-Ralphio Saperstein:

Failure is Jean-Ralphio’s metier. In many ways, he is a classic schlemiel, a bumbler who can’t do anything right. And he is undeniably a boor. But his outlandish behavior is coupled with an apple-cheeked earnestness that makes me wonder if he’s something of a holy fool. In the Christian tradition, a holy fool gives up everything to serve Jesus; he also acts insane, a deliberate put-on that conceals an inner perfection, for he has achieved the ascetic ideal. The Jewish Jean-Ralphio sacrifices everything to serve a different god: capitalism. His insanity conceals the ultimate uselessness of his sacrifice, which makes him an ironic figure—as every schlemiel is—but, strangely, also a blessed one.

Read the rest here.

From the editors of Tablet Magazine.