Israeli news gets a satirical spin

David Sidman is attempting to capitalize on the success of ‘The Daily Show’ with a twist in his YouTube series ‘The Israeli Show’.

david sidman the israeli show_311 (photo credit: Screenshot)
david sidman the israeli show_311
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show doesn’t have anything to worry about yet. But the Israeli Show with David Sidman is hoping to build on Stewart’s success in the US with his own fledgling weekly posting on YouTube in which he spoofs the latest news coming out of our corner of the world.
“It’s basically a one-man show,” said Sidman, who emigrated to Jerusalem from Boston over a decade ago.
“My wife works the teleprompter and is my stylist; that’s about it.”
Sidman is cast in the role of news anchor on the two to three minute shows, presenting sardonic comments on current events in Israel, with the help of video clips and photos in the background. While clearly grass roots, low budget and not quite ready for prime time with canned laugh tracks and Sidman’s straight-laced, stilted delivery, the show does have its moments.
When commenting on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent statement that some European leaders treat the Palestinians like a spoiled child, Sidman said the Europeans ignored the PM and instead threw the Palestinians a ‘sweet 16’ party. And some of his one-liners are zingers like “Shakira visited Jerusalem and went to the Kotel where her hips apologized for lying.”
“I go to news sites like The Jerusalem Post, and I’ll watch the nightly news; when I find stories that are either popular or unusual, I’ll take a long walk with my dogs and come up with a bit on them,” said Sidman, a dog trainer by profession (a skill he learned during his IDF service).
He’s done stand up routines on Israeli stages and worked in radio in Boston doing a comic routine on a sports show, but The Israeli Show is a labor of love for him, one that he hopes will provide more than just laughs.
“It became obvious to me that the entire world was obsessed with news about Israel. The Daily Show is America’s third most popular news source, and I realize why – people want to know what’s going on but the news generally is very boring,” said Sidman.
“So if you can make it fun and interactive and something they can relate to, then you have a win-win situation.”
IT’S ALMOST impossible to not come off with a political viewpoint when doing comedy about Israel, and while Sidman aims to poke fun at all segments of society, he does have an agenda that goes beyond comedy.
“I’m thrilled to be focusing my talents on something that will benefit the pro-Israel community. The whole issue of hasbara (public information) kind of blew my mind. There’s a hasbara tack now that instead of taking on anti- Israel bias and engaging those controversial issues, there’s instead a focus on completely unrelated issues – like Israeli hi-tech innovation,” he said.
“My advantage as a comedian is that I can take the anti-Israel bias out there and engage it, using comedy to expose its hypocrisy. But first and foremost, it’s a comedy show. I think hasbara is a side effect. People who watch it should realize it’s a good hasbara tool, but it’s not the main goal.
My main goal is to keep people abroad informed about what’s going on in Israel and let them have a good laugh at the same time” Sidman is hoping that the show (type in TheIsraeliShow in the YouTube search engine) continues to build momentum, which will enable him to invest some resources for
the expansion of the concept.
“I’d make the show longer, incorporate other comedians, do some bits on the street talking to people, and really make it more like a Saturday Night Live framework,” he said, referring to the long-running US satirical comedy show.
“Now, it’s more like just the ‘Weekend Update’ part of SNL than anything else.”
While Sidman keeps up with the local satirical current events shows like Eretz Nehederet, he sees a wide chasm in the root of humor between the US and Israel.
“The humor in Israel is completely different than the US – it’s a lot less subtle,” he said.
“I think, despite Eretz Nehederet’s qualities, the humor in the US is more thought out and creative. I don’t think native Israelis would necessarily find my show to be funny.”
And despite naming his show after the Comedy Central staple, Sidman admitted that he wasn’t really a great Jon Stewart fan.
“I like his show but I don’t love it. I like the idea of it more than I like the jokes – they’re touch and go. For comedy, I like Conan O’Brien more.”