Jerry Seinfeld performs in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
Jerry Seinfeld is a master of his craft. The jokes are fine-tuned, the gestures practiced, the timing effortless.
And when you watch a master at work, you’re willing to forgive even the little things. Little things like repeating jokes that anyone who’s seen Seinfeld live – including during his last show in Israel in 2015 – has heard before. And like casually dropping Tel Aviv into jokes where literally any other city name would have worked.
But it didn’t really matter. The thousands of people who turned out Saturday night to see Seinfeld at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv came to see a legend, and a legend they got.
The 63-year-old ran out in his signature dapper black suit and hopped right into his act. His energy for the slightly-more-than-an-hour show was impressive, and he filled the stage with his humor and presence. His energy level at the 10 p.m. show in no way seemed to be flagging despite performing the same set for a sold-out crowd at 7 p.m. The later show, however, had plenty of empty seats.
Channel 2's Dana Weiss interviews Jerry Seinfeld (Facebook/Reshet)
While he mostly didn’t localize his humor, Seinfeld made a couple of passing jokes about Israel, including wondering what the name of the Tel Aviv stadium means: “Lamp Blessing Arena?” He also said that he’d eaten 38 falafels on his trip here so far – not hard to believe since it was his first stop off the plane on Friday.
By contrast, Seinfeld’s opening act, his longtime friend Mark Schiff, jumped right into his set with a joke about moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. He also poked fun at taking the sherut (shared taxi) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – where the driver is “drinking coffee, on his phone and trying to pick up the women in the back seat.”
He flew over on El Al, he said, where he gets woken up so often to join a minyan he’s taken to wearing a large cross.
Seinfeld, meanwhile, stuck to his classic material, his observational humor on life, marriage, and nothing at all. After all, only he could launch into his set with a 10-minute riff on people coming to his show: “tickets, do you have the tickets, who has the tickets, are you bringing the tickets? How many times today have you guys heard the word ‘tickets’?”
He also, in no real surprise, steered clear of the comedy elephant in the room, not mentioning the name “Trump” even once. In an interview he did a couple weeks ago with Channel 2’s Dana Weiss, Seinfeld said, “Comedians talk about the things that make them laugh, and politics is not really my world of comedy.”
Indeed he stuck to his tried and true formula, asking at one point, “So, what else is annoying in the world besides everything?” While his jokes on pop tarts and the US Postal Service probably didn’t ring all that true for locals, his series on our dependence on smartphones was certainly universal. “You used to think about your life,” he said, “now you think about battery life.”
He rounded out the night by shouting “Thank you, we love Israel, we stand with you!”
And Israel loves him – warts and all – right back.