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Twenty-eight year old Yuval Segev is the current rising star in Israel's comic firmament. Not only does his show, Ha'olam Shel Reno Paskal ("The World of Reno Paskal"), now air on the BIP comedy channel, but Segev has also begun to appear on Eretz Nehederet ("A Wonderful Country"), and when Channel 2 raises the curtain on the new comic drama, Imale with Orna Banai, he will also be there.
Despite his ever-expanding opportunities, Segev remains best known as Reno Paskal, a naive, nerdy investigative journalist (who has interviewed the likes of Penina Rosenblum, MK Avigdor Kahalani, Shas MK Shlomo Benizri, attorney Yoram Schectel, and Arab MK Taled Al Sana) with a cowlick haircut and heavy rimmed glasses. Paskal is a modern clown, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin's beloved Tramp. He is simple and innocent and sees the good in everyone.
"Paskal loves everyone," says Segev. "He is an anti hero, trying to handle the world." With a straight face, Segev describes Paskal - born in Israel of a French mother (who brought him up speaking Hebrew with a strong French accent) and a father who abandoned the family when Paskal was one (because he fell in love with a cat).
Segev loves being the clown at the center of things. He studied in Paris under clown Philippe Gaulier (who also taught famed British comedian 'Ali G') after completing three years at the acting school of Seminar Hakibbutzim.
"The clown, like the child, is able to see clearly and tell the truth about society," says Segev, whose older brother is studying for an MA in Anthropology in the UK. "We are not so different," he says, "my brother deals with the subject academically and I do so under the guise of entertainment. I like to discover human behavior, to find the borders, cross them, ask provocative questions," says Segev.
Although Paskal was the first of Segev's personas to meet and interview famous local personalities, his "world" is now shared by other alter-egos. One of them, Melech Rubinstein, a gay artist who interviews and performs alongside unknown performance artists, is Segev's personal favorite. Because Segev has worked in underground and avant garde theater, he wanted to give performance artists an opportunity to be on television. Melech is a misogynist who hails from New Jersey and conducts his interviews in his own mixture of English and Yiddish. He is in Israel because of the art, the "work," but has no plans to make aliya.
Another character, Hamid - whose signature expression is "al ha kefak" - likes to repeat his questions over and over, getting his subjects into "loops." He's a pro-Israeli Saudi tour guide born in Qatar who came to Israel five years ago, fell in love with the country, and decided to stay here and help others discover its beauty. Segev calls him a "Zionist Arab, a fantasy."
Netanya, Segev's only female character (loosely based on The Simpsons' sisters Patty and Selma), met Paskal in a bar, which led to a one-night stand. She used to be a model, but went off the deep end when she began experimenting with perfumes and came up with scents such as garlic. She also sprouted an unusual amount of body hair due to problematic hormones, and had her nipples surgically removed because she thought it would be more attractive. Netanya interviews fashion and media celebrities ( such as reality show bachelor Ari Goldman, wedding dress designer Galit Levy and actor and heartthrob Yehuda Levy), all of whom she is extremely jealous.
Loco, the latest addition to the Paskal team, is a pink haired punk-rocker who protests against unusual things, such as the Postal Authority.
Segev always knew he wanted to perform. At the age of five he began to put on plays for his family. At 13 he got a video camera and began filming. At the same time, instead of writing out his projects in school, he would read parts from the textbook and act them out. By 15 he had joined the local theater in his home town of Haifa and by 16 he had a show on the local TV station. He worked as a soundman during his IDF service and as a juggler to pay for his studies.
"The older I get, the clearer my dreams become," says Segev. "Whenever you are sure of what you want, the world changes to adapt to it. My craziness has always been accepted and the fact that I have been given a stage [by BIP] to do what I want, it is a dream. Usually TV has guidelines and has to worry about ratings."
Segev's next professional goal is to make a feature-length comedy. His personal wish is that people approach life from a "love thy neighbor" perspective.
Who is the real Yuval Segev?
The BIP comedian tells The Jerusalem Post about a few of his favorite things.
Music: Beastie Boys
Author: Emile Zola
Film: Clockwork Orange
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Theater: Moliere, Shakespeare, Beckett, Bukovsky
Philosophy: Descartes, ("But philosophy depresses me, I find it frustrating to categorize behavior.")
Politics: Left wing, Labor.
TV influences: Cameri Quintet, Olam Ha'erev
Comic influences: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mel Brooks, Monty Python
Motorbike: Honda, Pantheon 150
Food: Entrecote steak
'Olam Shel Reno Paskal' airs every Monday to Thursday night at 9:15 p.m. on BIP.
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