“Do Jewish mothers in the West Bank tell their daughters not to settle?” So mused Benji Lovitt on stage Monday night in Tel Aviv’s ZOA house during an evening of comedy for charity. The event, aptly called “Laugh Your Heart Out,” was in aid of Save a Child’s Heart, an organization that has brought thousands of children with heart defects to Israel for life-saving cardiac surgery since 1996.
Four of the children – all of whom are from developing countries – attended the event, and although it’s doubtful that they appreciated the comedy much, they nevertheless received warm rounds of applause when they bashfully took to the stage. The opening act was a group of four break-dancers who drew gasps from the audience – both on account of their gravity-defying moves and the fact that they broke the stage floor. The rest of the evening proceeded with laughs that were occasionally punctuated by white-knuckle moments as the comics teetered on the edge of political correctness and the broken stage.
Acting as MC, Lovitt warmed the audience up with his usual “new-oleh-clashes-with-Sabra” humor, with a few one-liners that elicited some LOL moments, including, “I think Dung Gate should be exit only.”
Lovitt was followed by two Israeli stand-up comics who feature regularly on television, Yossi Tarablus and Shahar Hasson. This was their first attempt at stand-up in English, and overall, it wasn’t one to—’scuse the pun—laugh at. Having said that, much of Hasson’s set was spent laughing at – rather than with - him, as he fumbled about trying to find the right words in English. In one hilarious moment, while trying to find the right way of saying tiyul shnati (the end-of-year school trip) in English, Hasson accidentally (on purpose?) said “anal trip.” Nevertheless, ever the dutiful funnyman, Hasson brushed his linguistic faux pas aside, stating, “The joke is on me.”
The comedian, who has a passing resemblance to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joked about how he is always mistaken for an Arab whenever he travels abroad. Meanwhile Tarablus, who in both looks and voice shares similarities with Borat, resorted to the wife-bashing humor that Sacha Baron Cohen’s own character is famous for.
“People always say if you want to know how your wife will look in 30 years time, look at her mother. This is good for me because my mother-in-law is dead,” joked Tarablus before continuing, “Nah, I’m only kidding. She’s not dead. But I’m working on it.”
While he proved to be just as good in English as he is in Hebrew, Hasson – whose ADHD had him darting all over the stage like a jumping jack – might have taken things a little too far when his toilet humor morphed into full-blown verbal diarrhea. At some point his genitalia-related expletives had the audience squirming in their seats from embarrassment rather than laughter.
However, all in all, an excellent show which did exactly as it said on the tin: Along with most of the audience, I “laughed my heart out.”