(photo credit: Courtesy)
After 24 hours in Jerusalem, Louis C.K. already gets it.
“It’s very nice to be in Israel, in Jerusalem, but it’s weird,” he said Thursday, during the first of two stand-up shows on the same night at the capital’s Payis Arena. “Everyone I talk to who lives here says it’s crazy.”
“That’s what we all think of you in the rest of the world,” even though he said it was somewhat surprising to hear Jerusalem’s residents admit it was true. But as any Jerusalemite will admit, it’s a weird place, in many ways the perfect – though somewhat surprising – locale for C.K.’s crass, crude and obscene 75-minute set.
Clad in a suit and tie, the veteran comedian touched on everything from naps to suicide, parenting, Jesus, Greek mythology and – of course – sex.
And those are just the things I’m able to commit to print.
Miming more sex acts on stage than might be expected at a low-rent strip club, C.K. garnered raucous laughter from the 10,000 people – many kippa-clad patrons among them – who packed the first show.
As he mimed an ISIS beheading on stage, he paused for a moment and looked out at the crowd, realizing just where he was.
“I can’t change the show because of where I am, I’d have to edit the whole thing,” he said. “I’m just gonna do what I did in Amsterdam last night.”
C.K. is in the midst of a heavily scheduled summer tour. He will be performing Friday in Helsinki, Saturday in Copenhagen and Sunday in Paris. The actor, writer and director is ostensibly touring the globe to raise funds after a new project left him strapped for cash.
In an interview with Howard Stern earlier this year, C.K. told the radio host he was “millions of dollars in debt” after making a new web series, “Horace and Pete.”
“I’m going to Israel, and I’m doing a show in, like, a soccer stadium or something there, and I’ll get as much money over there as I would here at home,” he told Stern. Indeed, tickets for the shows ranged from NIS 285 to NIS 735.
C.K. came on stage after three short opening acts – Joe Machi, Rachel Feinstein and Joe List – who improved in quality in that order.
From the moment he walked on, C.K. was among friends, who broke into spontaneous applause throughout the set that even seemed to surprise the comic himself.
But the audience was most rapt when C.K. described his connection to Judaism, and how his father converted from Catholicism when he found out that his father was born Jewish. C.K. said his grandfather was a “one-legged Hungarian Jewish doctor,” who abandoned his faith for his wife.
“Why?” C.K. asked? “The Christians basically won everything anyway.”
The grandfather had a point, C.K. noted, pointing out that the whole world even marks time since the birth of Jesus.
“But the Jews are really keeping track, we know it’s really 5776,” he said to a groundswell of laughter and applause. And, seemingly casting his lot in with the Jewish people, he added, “That’s our thing.”
If this Jerusalem crowd is any indication, they’d be happy to welcome him into the tribe.