Turns out the illustrious career of comedian, actor and writer Jerry Seinfeld was born in the banana fields of an Israeli kibbutz.
In a series of interviews with Hebrew media published over the weekend, Seinfeld discussed his connection to the Jewish state, his first visit there and his opinions on politics and the #Metoo movement.
“My very first thoughts of being a comedian were in Israel when I was 15,” he told Dana Weiss in an interview with Channel 2 News which was broadcast on Saturday night. Seinfeld was there working – or not working, mostly – on Kibbutz Sa’ar in 1970, and “there were a couple of other kids there from New York, from Queens, and we were doing lots of comedy things, you know, hanging around... I ate halva and falafel and it was really a fantastic summer.”
After assuring Weiss that he was not just pandering to the Israeli audience to get them to come to his show, he reiterated: “My comedy career honestly, really began at Kibbutz Sa’ar.”
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And now, 47 years later, Seinfeld is bringing his whole family with him when he returns to perform two shows in Tel Aviv on December 30. Since they’ve never been before, he said he wants to hit all the sites, including “Masada and the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.”
In an interview with Ynet that was published on Friday, Seinfeld said he wasn’t sure exactly what to think of US President Donald Trump’s speech on Jerusalem and his decision to move the US embassy there.
“I don’t know what to think about it, that’s why I ask Israelis about it,” he said. “I have to ask you in order to understand it. I don’t know what the significance is.”
Seinfeld said since he was in Israel in December 2015, performing his first shows there ever, he has stayed updated on the news and goings on in the country.
“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,” he told Ynet.
But, he said to Weiss, he stays away from talking about politics – and even about Trump – in his stand-up act.
“Comedians talk about the things that make them laugh,” he said on Channel 2, “And politics is not really my world of comedy.”
While Seinfeld had US president Barack Obama on his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, he said he wouldn’t do the same for Trump, simply because he isn’t funny.
Both Weiss and Ynet’s Ami Friedman asked the comedian about the wave of prominent media figures – including comedians – being accused of sexual assault and harassment.
“It’s not the industry,” he told Weiss. “It’s not show business, this is global.”
He said many of the accusations took him by surprise, and that he couldn’t even understand the actions of someone like his colleague Louis C.K.
“I’ve never seen [sexual harassment] during the years I worked on my show and in the nightclubs,” he said. When it comes to Louis C.K., he said “the problem for him will be that no one will ever look at him without thinking about that.”
Seinfeld told Ynet that he thinks “Louis is a man who could” make a comeback, and win over the audience again. “He’s such a smart guy. But I don’t really know if the audience will accept him,” he said. “I don’t know how somebody can respond to that. And I also think it’s still going to continue, and there will be many more names that will emerge before it dies down.”