Standing up for Israel

Standing up for Israel

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
November 30, 2009 00:27
4 minute read.
butch bradley 248.88

butch bradley 248.88. (photo credit: )

After entertaining American troops in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as six times in Afghanistan, comedian Butch Bradley is certainly battle-tested. And yet, when a rocket came dangerously close to him on a recent visit to Afghanistan, he needed a friend to calm him down - Israeli-born comedian Avi Liberman. "I was supposed to be giving Avi confidence, but after the rocket attack I was hyperventilating and Avi was sleeping," Bradley recalled. "He said 'I'm from Israel - this is nothing.' His calmness helped me get through the stress of that tour, which was funny, because I was supposed to be looking out for him." Now Bradley will be coming to Israel together with Liberman and two other American comics on the biannual Stand Up for Israel Comedy for Koby tour. Liberman has been bringing top American comedians to Israel twice a year since the heart of the Palestinian wave of violence in 2001. The events have brought in money for multiple charities and have recently been devoted to the Koby Mandell foundation, which works on behalf of terror victims' families and is named after the 13-year-old who was murdered by terrorists near his Tekoa home on May 8, 2001. Due to the tour's success, this time the shows will be held in larger auditoriums, with a performance to be staged in Haifa for the first time. The tour will kick off Wednesday in Modi'in at the Azrielli Mall's Einan Theater, followed by Thursday at Beit Shemesh's Eshkol Hapayis, Saturday Night at Tel Aviv's ZOA House and Sunday at Jerusalem's Beit Shmuel; Ra'anana's Eshkol Hapayis is next on Tuesday and the the Haifa Cinemateque a day later. As usual, Liberman lined up three top-tier comics to join him. Besides Bradley, the tour will feature African-American funnyman Steve White, who is a veteran of five Spike Lee films, and Mark Schiff, who regularly opens for Jerry Seinfeld and is an observant Jew. WHITE CAME on the tour for the first time seven years ago. The Comedy for Koby tour web site describes him as "Morgan Freeman, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington and a little Meryl Streep all rolled into one." He has been featured on all of America's top comedy shows on television and he even has journalistic experience, having covered Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League for Comedy Central. Schiff came on the tour three years ago, and Liberman said that since then, many people have asked him when he would bring him back. He has appeared multiple times on Jay Leno and David Letterman's TV shows. An added bonus for Schiff in coming on the tour is that he gets to visit his son, who is studying at a Jerusalem yeshiva. With himself and Schiff - both observant - joined by the Catholic Bradley, Liberman said he had "the most spiritual group I've ever brought." On their tour of Afghanistan, Liberman became close to Bradley, who he calls "a really good comic and an all-around mensch." Bradley recalled that on their tour, they prayed a lot together and Liberman taught him the Wayfarers' Prayer [Tefilat Hadereh]. The only one of the four comedians coming to Israel for the first time, Bradley said he was excited about the trip and not at all concerned about the security situation. "I'd like to think I'm politically aware," Bradley said. "I don't look at Israel as a war zone. I'm really impressed by the resilience of the people going on living their lives; it's inspirational. I'm coming to show support for the people of an amazing country and for the Koby Foundation. I'm from New Jersey - that's more of a war zone." Bradley boasts that his was the only Catholic family in a Jewish neighborhood in Atlantic City. He went to nursery school at the local Jewish Community Center. When he was deciding which neighborhood to move to in Los Angeles, he saw a group of hassidim and decide to settle down near them. "I thought 'oh my gosh - these are my people,'" he said. "I moved there so I'd feel closer to home." Growing up, he was inspired by watching Jewish comedians Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, and Shecky Greene. Now he is a fan of Seinfeld and Adam Sandler - also members of the tribe. "Richard Pryor is the only comic I like who is not Jewish," he quipped. BORN LAWRENCE Bradley, Butch was a nickname his uncle gave him that stuck, at first to his dismay. But he has since grown into the name. "It was tortuous growing up with that name, but as a stand-up comic, it works," he said. "It was definitely part of God's plan." Asked how he got on the USO circuit entertaining troops, Bradley said that September 11 was an eye-opening experience for him and he wanted to do what he could to help. "I wrote letters volunteering and before I knew it, I was in Iraq," he said. Bradley believes his experiences with the American troops made him understand what Israel was going through. A fan of Fox News, he promised "five minutes of Obama jokes" in his routine to Israeli audiences, known to be among the more skeptical of the US president. "If I lived in Israel, I would sure hope that America took a stand against terrorism," he said. Bradley added that he was looking forward to visiting the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Christian sites, and just going to cafes and taking in the culture. He noted that he loved humous and planned on consuming vast quantities of it in Israel. "It's an honor to get to come," he summed up. "I don't think there's a place like it on earth. It's going to be exciting and mind-blowing."


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