Origin of Idiomatic Phrase "... not so much."

For the last couple of years I’ve seen increasing use of the idiom “not so much” used as a comparative. Typically the sentence is structured something like “I like watching hockey. Football, not so much.”

The true meaning seeems to be damning with faint praise, where “not so much” is pronounced with a smidgin of dismissive contempt and the intended meaning is closer to “football sux” than “football is less interesting than hockey.”

Where did this come from? Who or what first popularized it? When?

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show uses it very often. He’d seem the most likely source for the popularity.

Comedian Paul Reiser used this heavily in his act, which would place it back into the 1980s. I’ve noticed lots of other comics, especially Jon Stewart, pick up on this usage.

And I suspect it’s a Yidishism, like “consequenses, schmonsequences”. But Paul Reiser used it heavily on “Mad About You”.

My answer was also going to be Paul Reiser.

[WAG]It sounds like a Yiddish phrasing to me [/WAG] – and both Paul Reiser and Jon Stewart are Jewish.

I first heard it on Mad About You.

I think I heard him say it on My Two Dads.

I also associate Paul Reiser with this idiom.

Seconded. Or thirded, or whatever the count is up to.

Yep, it’s been used in my family way before Paul Reiser or Jon Stewart ever toddled in front of a TV camera. Definitely a Yiddishism that’s worked its way into the mainstream, like “It couldn’t hurt,” “feh,” etc.

(no, not “etc.” You know what I mean.)

Which makes them both quite rare among American comedians. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, it makes them more apt to pick up a Yiddish phrasing.

I don’t know if there’s any similar usage in Yiddish as mentioned, but this sounds like something they would say in Minnesota.

Borat famously used it when interviewing an old southern dude at a wine tasting- he asked the guy if the (black) butler was his slave, the guy said no, we don’t have slaves here anymore, “and that’s good”, which Borat correctly interpreted as
“good for him, but for you- not so much”.

That was Yul Bryner in “The King and I”. Funny, he didn’t look Jewish.