Double header: Jerry Seinfeld returns to Israel

Seventeen years since the last original episode of the 'Seinfeld' sitcom aired, the Jewish funnyman has reached mythic stature in Israel.

December 21, 2017 15:26
4 minute read.
Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)


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If it’s December, it must mean that Jerry Seinfeld is on the way to Israel.

Two years after a triumphant run of sold-out stand-up performances in Tel Aviv, the 63-year-old American comic legend is making a holiday season tradition out of it by returning to the scene of the crime for two shows on December 30 at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena.

To paraphrase Sally Field’s infamous Oscar acceptance speech, he must really like us. Because this time, he’s bringing his family along, and he told Channel 2’s Dana Weiss last week that they plan to do the “Masada and the Dead Sea and Jerusalem” tourist circuit. Channel 2's Dana Weiss interviews Jerry Seinfeld (Facebook/Reshet)

Seinfeld’s longtime colleague and regular opening act Mark Schiff will be joining the comic legend again and will also use the opportunity to explore the country.

“We did not have much time for touring last time. This time we will different,” Schiff told The Jerusalem Post in answer to an email. “The big difference this time is that my wife is coming with me, so that means I need to put on new underwear every day.”

In another interview that appeared last week on Ynet, Seinfeld admitted that his visit has piqued a long-dormant interest in Israel.

“As soon as you visit a place like Israel, you can’t not stay updated and read every article you see in the news about it,” said Seinfeld.

His “disclosure” to Channel 2 that his first thought of being a comedian had its roots from working in the banana fields of Kibbutz Sa’ar as a 15-year-old volunteer wasn’t exactly new information – he told the story from the stage in Tel Aviv two years ago in response to a question from the audience during his curtain call at the end of the show.

“That was the first time I thought that if I could spend my life making people laugh, it would be a great thing,” he recalled, after wowing the audience for close to 90 minutes.

Seventeen years since the last original episode of the Seinfeld sitcom aired, the Jewish funnyman has reached mythic stature in Israel.

Reruns of the show are continuously aired, and the characters Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer are considered by CEOs of corporations and Tel Aviv hipsters alike to be extended dysfunctional members of the family.

But the quality of his Tel Aviv shows demonstrated that he wasn’t an out-out-shape old-timer failing to reach previous glory but a still primed (although a little chunkier) thoroughbred at the top of his game.

Seinfeld-mania took such hold that one scheduled stand-up show expanded into four sold-out performances and, by all accounts, the audiences went home elated (except for those that couldn’t find their cars in the parking lot after the show).

“We always talk after the shows for a few minutes. We talk about the crowds, the response and the overall feel of the night,” said the Jewish Schiff. “We had a great time last time and expect the same or better this time. Israeli crowds are great. I’ve done many shows in Israel, and I never felt anything but a tremendous welcome. After all, these are my people.”

Both Schiff and Seinfeld localized their bits a few times at the 2015 shows, with Seinfeld mentioning the vast array of food at Israeli hotel breakfasts and how it brings out the worst elements in people.

“After loading up on 12 dishes you would never think of eating together, you see someone walking with something else, and you shout, ‘Where did you get that? I didn’t see that!’” he shouted out in a delivery which was more staccato and manic than his TV monologues of old.

According to Schiff, the jibes in the show are playful and reflect a genuine affection for Israel by both him and Seinfeld.

“Jerry and I both feel very comfortable in Israel. Just walking the streets and seeing all the signs in Hebrew makes me feel like I’m at home,” he said, adding that he was impressed by the atmosphere in the country.

“The last time we were there, it was a tough time for Israel, with stabbings and car rammings going on,” he continued. “What most surprised me was how crowded everything was and how resilient the Israelis are. You people are a nation of superheroes. That’s why we [the Jews] are still here. People have tried to get rid of us forever, but we just keep opening new stores and inventing things to keep people healthy and alive.”

And, of course, going to comedy shows.

Jerry Seinfeld will present two shows on December 30 at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv.

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