Comedy Review: Comedy for Koby

Perhaps most people wanted a show to make them forget about their lives in Israel.

stand up comedian avi liberman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
stand up comedian avi liberman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Comedy for Koby
Beit Shmuel
June 6
The Jerusalem Post
ran an incorrect headline in a feature previewing the Comedy for Koby stand-up tour on this page last Thursday. The headline was “Riding the latest wave,” while the subheadline below was “Top US comedians on the ‘Comedy for Koby’ tour are already poking fun at the Gaza flotilla incident.”
First thing that morning, the word “not” was added to both the headline and the subheadline online, because as the story indicated, the comedians made a point of not focusing on the flotilla or any other news of the day. “The show helps people get away from the news,” Comedy for Koby founder Avi Liberman said in the story.
After seeing the show at Jerusalem’s Beit Shmuel on Sunday and listening to how the crowd reacted to the comics, it seems clear that many people were either disappointed or relieved, based on whether they read the Post online or in print.
There are Israelis who, as Liberman said, come to comedy shows to escape the news, especially at a time like now when the headlines are particularly disheartening for the Jewish state. But there are many, especially in Jerusalem, who wanted the comedians to poke more fun at their current reality and lighten up issues that are weighing heavily on their minds. We confess to be among them.
Liberman, as promised, opened the show with a joke about how the group had added another performance on a cruise ship to Turkey and was hilarious as usual in mocking the idiosyncrasies in Israeli society and Jewish tradition.
Bob Zany said he finally made it big time now that he was performing at the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and said his next stop would be at the Tel Aviv KFC. Johnny Sanchez did a good job of making fun of the way Israelis argue.
There were other attempts at Israel-themed jokes that did not go as well. Zany said something about getting lost on the way to Silwan, and multiple comics mentioned the light rail but lost the audience because they referred to it as “the monorail.” But other than that, the show could have been delivered in any capital in the world, or we could have watched it at home on YouTube.
Liberman’s guests could have made more of an effort to reach out to a specifically Israeli audience, as have some of the best performers Liberman has brought in the past.
Just last December, Butch Bradley had an entire audience in stitches with his routine about drivers in Jerusalem’s Old City and his open encouragement for an Israeli attack on Iran. “I don’t want to insult the intellect with a joke I’d tell in Iowa,” Bradley said then, in an interview with Post Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz.
But perhaps Liberman is right, and most people wanted a show to make them forget about their lives in Israel. The boos an audience member received for asking the comedians what they thought about the Arab-Israeli conflict could be evidence of this. People who wanted an escape from reality genuinely got it and, we are sure, left very satisfied.