The last time Los Angeles-based comedian Wayne Federman performed in Israel was 10 years ago, in the aftermath of the second intifada.

Palestinians had blown up pizza parlors and Passover Seders, and Israelis needed a reason to laugh.

Comedian Avi Liberman approached his fellow Jew Federman at LA’s Improv Comedy Club and asked him to come with him to Israel to “brighten the mood.”

Since then, Liberman has brought dozens of comics to Israel in good times and bad, raising money for teens at risk and the Koby Mandell Foundation that helps families of terror victims. Now Federman is coming back to Israel for shows tonight in Modi’in, Sunday in Jerusalem, Monday in Ra’anana, Tuesday in Tel Aviv and Wednesday in Gush Etzion. He will be joined by Liberman and top comedians Ralph Harris and Dennis Regan.

“Wayne deserves a lot of credit for this tour starting,” Liberman said. “He has a lot of credibility that made other comedians come. The tour has changed so much since then. I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions to Wayne and the other comedians this time.”

In a phone interview from LA, Federman said he was excited about coming back to Israel. He said he loved Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and thinks Israelis make a good audience.

“I remember back then Avi asked me if I wanted to go, and it took me about a second to say yes,” Federman said. “There were comedians who were hesitant because of the intifada. I guess I was the one who started the whole thing. I’m proud to call myself a comedy catalyst.”

Federman said he had wanted to return for a while, but movies he was in and television opportunities got in the way. He said that as a Jew he felt a special bond with Israel.

“As a kid, every year at Passover we would say ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ and I didn’t know why,” he said. “I still don’t get it, but I do feel a connection with Israel.”

Despite his Jewish roots, Federman’s first impression of Israel surprised him.

“I was kind of shocked at how much activity was going on in Tel Aviv on Friday night,” he said. “I thought everything would be shut down and everyone would be having dinners together. I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with your country, especially my favorite Israeli restaurant: the McDonald’s in Jerusalem.”

Since his last trip to Israel, Federman has appeared in the movies Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, Legally Blonde, and 50 First Dates. He was the head monologue writer for NBC’s Late Night host Jimmy Fallon, who will soon start hosting The Tonight Show.

Harris has appeared on an equally famous NBC show, Seinfeld. He played a pizza delivery man on an episode called “The Sniffling Accountant” in 1993. People still tell him they recognize him from the show, and he still gets checks for reruns.

He has also appeared in the movies Dreamgirls and Evan Almighty, on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and had a starring role in the ABC-TV sitcom On Our Own.

Reached in Omaha, Nebraska, Harris said he loves to travel, and his friends have been making requests for what he should bring back from Israel.

“Everyone wants me to bring back water from the Jordan River, but I told them I can’t because airport security is crazy,” he said. “I’m looking forward to coming, seeing the culture. I hope people bear with me with what I can’t understand. I am glad to raise money for families in a tough situation and that my career enables me to help people.”

Regan revealed that he first came to Israel 41 years ago as a “17-year-old long-haired backpacker.” He said he looked forward to seeing some of the same sites he visited back then, especially the marketplaces.

In an email Regan sent from a golf course in the hills of Tennessee, he said he had gotten concerned responses when he told people he was coming to Israel to perform.

“I am not worried about anything there,” he said.

“No one has tried to dissuade me from coming. But they do ask me if I am worried., which leads me to believe that they would be worried if they were coming.”

Regan is one of the few comics who have made multiple appearances on both the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman. His latest was his fifth time he appeared on Letterman, who sees Regan as one of his favorite comedians.

Liberman said he was thankful to the Women of the Wall for “providing good material” for his act in the shows. He said he was glad to be joined by a variety of comedians from different backgrounds who approach comedy from varying angles.

“Their resumes are very impressive, they are very different from each other, and their energies are very different,” he said. “I feel lucky and blessed to have them on my tour.”

Tickets can be ordered online at www.comedyforkoby.com or via phone at (052) 798-5200.


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