(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jimmy Carr bounded on stage in Tel Aviv Saturday night with a "shalom" and "sababa" like he's every other musical act to play in the country.
But, as he promised me he would in an interview earlier this year, Carr started off his show with a set of local jokes about the country that delighted the audience.
Joking that he would have done a five-city tour of Israel but "there's only two f*cking cities," Carr also cracked that Jerusalem "will be lovely when it's finished" and is just a "stone's throw from the West Bank."
He also pointed out that the audience could have instead attended a protest that night about the nation-state law or about a gay murder (a rally on the anniversary of the Bar Noar murders was taking place right outside the auditorium). "I wasn't expecting this much controversy in Israel," he joked to a huge laugh.
Before long, Carr launched into his signature one-liners, filling almost two hours of the night with many of the classic jokes he's told over his career.
Fans of Carr will undoubtedly have been familiar with at least a chunk of the jokes, but, as Carr pointed out to one heckler, the show is titled "The Best of, Ultimate Gold, Greatest Hits Tour" - so what did you expect?
Unlike many comics, Carr loves hecklers, and loves to spar with the audience, welcoming people shouting obnoxious things at him. And of course the crowd - made up mostly of young Israeli men - at the show in Heichal Hatarbut did not let him down.
The comedian took a particular shine to the 13-year-old boy sitting in the front row, and the father who inexplicably thought bringing him was a good idea. Indeed, true to form, Carr made joke after joke about sex acts, rape, pedophilia, drugs, hookers, and peppered his how with profanity. After all, if you're not cringing as much as you're laughing, are you really at a Jimmy Carr show? Some of the jokes were dated and uncomfortable, but Carr never has and never will care who he offends - from women to the disabled to every race and sexual orientation possible. If you show up to see Carr, you should know what you're getting yourself into.
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Carr proved during his sparring with the crowd that he knew more about Israel than just to crack a few scripted jokes. When one man joked that he worked for the Mossad, the comedian said "well what are you doing here then? You're supposed to be overseas. If you were in the Shin Bet I'd be worried." Talking to a sign language interpreter, he wondered if all of Hebrew could be expressed with repeated use of the middle finger - the crowd agreed the answer was yes.
While Carr got laughs almost the entire night, one heckler did manage to get the audience to roar with laughter, asking "How does it feel to be the only one in the room with a foreskin?"
The comedian let out his signature weezy chuckle, asking "Am I really? Am I really the only one?" The room nodded as one and Carr seemed tickled by the thought.
Saturday night was Carr's first ever performance in Israel in his close to 20-year career. If the reception he got Saturday night is any indication, he could very well be back.
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