(photo credit: Courtesy Koby Mandell Foundation)
At a fund-raiser for the Koby Mandell Foundation hastily put together to accommodate the schedule of American stand-up comedian Elon Gold, Jerusalem fans filled the hall of the Hirsch Theater of Beit Shmuel.
“I have been trying to get Elon to come here for years,” explained comedian Avi Liberman, the founder of Comedy for Koby, a fund-raising arm of the foundation which is dedicated to helping bereaved families heal from terror and other tragedies.
Gold and his family (his wife and four children), who live in Los Angeles, were in Israel for a week to celebrate his son’s bar mitzva, so Liberman took the opportunity to invite his colleague to entertain and support the cause.
“I didn’t think people would come to another event so soon after our last one,” Liberman admitted, but was very gratified to see that the audience had come out in full force.
In his warm-up, the comic regaled the hall as he talked about the High Holidays and the Taglit Birthright tour he was leading. He also engaged with members of the audience, displaying his well-honed ad lib skills.
When Gold took to the stage, he said that this was his first time back in Israel since he was 12. “I have been waiting to say this for 30 years,” he revealed, as he belted out a rousing “What’s up, Yerushalaim!” to thunderous applause.
Poised, polished and totally at ease, Gold touched on many topics in his one-man presentation. “So much to talk about,” he would utter as he walked back and forth across the stage. But no matter what direction his material took, the audience was only too glad to follow.
For example, he noted that there was a difference between Israelis and Jews: Israelis return fire; Jews return merchandise. Israelis occupy the West Bank; Jews occupy banks in the West. Israelis live on settlements; Jews live off settlements (a nod to lawyers, he explained).
Gold said he was Modern Orthodox and quipped that over the years, he has learned that “Modern” means “not so.” Judaism is a pick-and-choose religion, he observed. People say, “We keep kosher at home, but not in restaurants” or “We keep the TV on during Shabbat, but we don’t watch it.” That’s like a vegetarian saying, “We don’t eat meat at home, but we have beef and veal at restaurants, and we go hunting on the weekends,” he said.
In addition to his insightful comments, well-executed routines and memorable one-liners (“I love haredim; they’re like the Amish with Blackberries” or “The price of gas in Israel is so high, even the Reform Jews are walking to shul”), the versatile Gold is very adept at impersonations.
His impressions of Johnny Carson, Barack Obama, Jackie Mason and a touch of Woody Allen were spot-on, as well as his hilarious take on a rabbi giving a sermon like a journalist, implementing the “six Ws” of who, what, where, when, why and how, and a cantor that spent half an hour just on rendering “Baruch ata...” He also did a masterful runthrough of various languages and accents; in particular, his rendition of Russian had the audience howling.
In short, it was a wonderful show for a wonderful cause, and the audience had a wonderful time.Comedy for Koby
Beit Shmuel, Jerusalem