Comedy Review: Comedy for Koby

The Comedy for Koby show in Jerusalem on Sunday night raised money for the Koby Mandell Foundation, in addition to charities that help teens at risk.

May 27, 2013 19:53
3 minute read.
From left to right: Avi Liberman, Dennis Regan, Wayne Federman and Ralph Harris.

comedians370. (photo credit: Yissachar Ruas )

The crowd was a little confused at the biannual Comedy for Koby show in Jerusalem Sunday night. Not as to why they were there, but where they had come from.

Funny-man Avi Liberman tried to take stock of the audience and asked one man if he was American. He readily responded yes, but then added, “Well, a little I’m from Canada,” to which the crowd roared with laughter.

When one girl answered that she was from England, it was Liberman’s turn to look perplexed, “You said ‘Yes’ like you were from the Valley.”

Now in its 10th year, Comedy for Koby has been bringing dozens of comics to the Holy Land since 2003, raising money for the Koby Mandell Foundation, in addition to charities that help teens at risk. Rabbi Seth Mandell and his wife, Sherri, started the foundation in memory of their 13-year-old son, Koby, who was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2001. The foundation provides therapeutic healing programs to assist families torn apart by terrorism.

Liberman warmed up the audience with some topical news.

He said that as soon as he landed, he lost $300. “That’s the last time I eat ice cream with Bibi Netanyahu.”

At Liberman’s mere mention of Stephen Hawking, the crowd responded with resounding boos.

“You understand the irony,” Liberman said, “that we invented the chip that allows him to speak.”

“We should be smart enough to hack into it, ‘Mr. Hawking, can you explain your black-hole theory?’ “‘The-disengagement-from-Gaza-was-a-huge-mistake,’” Liberman mimicked in a robotic voice.

Following Liberman, Dennis Regan has been doing standup for more than 20 years all over the US and has performed multiple times on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman. In a Q&A following the performance, he said what surprised him the most about visiting Israel was that “the greatest danger of being killed here is being run over by a guy on a bike in Tel Aviv.”

Wayne Federman, one of the first comedians to join Comedy for Koby and returning for his second time to Israel, treated the audience to some special musical numbers on the piano.

“This is my new song about Tel Aviv. It’s called ‘I Think I Found a Parking Space.’” It was the first visit to the Holy Land for comedian Ralph Harris, who closed the show. He said he had been in contact with Liberman for about eight years, and this was the first opportunity he’d had to finally perform here. “I couldn’t wait,” he said.

The Philadelphia native wasn’t sure what to expect before he came to Israel. He said the only thing he expected from Liberman was the opportunity to perform a great show but that the experience had gone above and beyond, with Liberman taking the group on tours and teaching them about Israel.

“You only see it in the news, and the things in the news are so sensationalized,” he told the Jerusalem Post after the show.

“I knew it was a holy place, and I couldn’t wait to get here and see some of the things I always read about in the Bible.”

Harris came out for his set with an energy that threatened to break free of the stage. He had the audience doubled over at his impersonations. At one point he fought breaking character himself, taking deep breaths to control his own laughter at his impersonation of his 100-year-old grandfather.

But he also imparted some wisdom, finishing with advice to the audience to call their grandparents. “Their biggest fear is that they’ll be forgotten,” he said.

After the show, excited fans clamored around the comedians, taking pictures and thanking them for coming. The amount of hugs Liberman received was a testament to the popularity of the show and the importance it holds for the patrons.

The comedy tour continues in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and Gush Etzion on Wednesday. Tickets can be ordered online at or by phone at 052-798-5200.

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