Show Review: Big laughs for Comedy for Koby

The comedians visiting Israel for Comedy for Koby didn’t enjoy their near-death experiences with Israeli drivers.

Comedy for Koby (photo credit: Yissachar Ruas)
Comedy for Koby
(photo credit: Yissachar Ruas)
The comedians visiting Israel for Comedy for Koby didn’t enjoy getting through airport security on the way here or their near-death experiences with Israeli drivers, but they love a good T-shirt shop in the Old City and aren’t afraid of a few Red Alert sirens.
After two of the three comedians scheduled to take part in the event bailed during Operation Pillar of Defense, Avi Liberman, who was born in Nahariya but lives in Los Angeles and has been organizing comedy tours for Israel for over a decade, said fan favorites Butch Bradley and Dwight Slade stepped up to join the hilarious Jimmy Shubert (Entourage, King of Queens) for seven shows benefiting the Koby Mandell Foundation.
Named for 13-year-old Koby Mandell who was killed by terrorists in 2001, its biannual shows help raise funds for activities benefiting Israelis who have lost loved ones to terrorism.
In his opening during the Sunday night show in Jerusalem, Liberman recounted a conversation in which he was asked if he planned to cancel his trip as well.
“It doesn’t really seem like the perfect time to go,” said a young woman pointedly.
“When is it the perfect time to do anything? Never,” said Liberman, who then pointed out that her fiancé, who isn’t a multi-millionaire, doesn’t seem so perfect to marry after all.
Liberman, catering to the heavily religiously observant crowd, said he’s become a bad influence at synagogue after he got inspired by Subway’s rainy day special, which says the meal’s half-price if it’s raining in that city.
“I’ll look for any excuse not to say Tahanun,” he said. “No Tahanun today. Why not? There’s a bris. Where? Somewhere.”
Comedy Central regular Bradley, or as the laundry guy here called him, “Shmutz” (rhymes with Butch), spoke about Israelis with awe and disbelief, from the mind control he assumed they use to stop rockets to “those little angry Israeli dudes in underwear” playing matkot on the beach. “The ball never touches the ground,” he said. “I don’t know how you win that game.”
He was impressed as well by the array of T-shirt shops and the Kotel in the Old City, though it left him somewhat baffled as well.
“We went to the Wailing Wall today. I gotta be honest with you. I didn’t hear anything,” he said, wide-eyed and straight-faced.
Bradley, who has performed for US troops in Afghanistan and visited Israel in 2009 with Comedy for Koby, joked about people’s concern over him being here. It’s only dangerous here, he said, if you’re trying to walk down the sidewalk (he almost got run over by a guy on a scooter that day). “Do scooters know about the road? Are they people who lost their driver’s license?” Slade, who came to Israel during the second intifada and even canceled a show to be here, left the audience roaring with a story about growing up in a “whisper racist” family, where his mother would say things like: “Well, we have new neighbors,” adding in a whisper afterward, “Jewish.”
When people asked Slade, this year’s Boston Comedy Festival winner, if he was concerned about his safety in Israel, he confidently replied, “Every moment you’re concerned about mortality when you’re in Israel, but then you get out of the sherut.”
Slade’s physical humor and voices left the crowd clutching their sides as he frantically swatted away a bee to demonstrate how ridiculous they make you look when they fly toward you, and reenacted the time he swallowed a gnat.
Most hilariously, he performed his well known “why not to drive with the radio on” skit, flipping the stations and uncontrollably breaking out into dance moves like the Macarena, head-banging during a Metallica song, or making out with himself when a Barry White song comes on.
“I’ve had more near misses listening to classic rock than I ever have drinking in my life,” he said, to uproarious laughter.
As the only comedian daring enough to swear in Jerusalem, Shubert, a natural storyteller with a jarringly raspy voice, mocked his airport security travails courtesy of the TSA, which he said stands for “Take Shampoo Away.”
After he and a 70-year-old woman were pulled aside for security checks, he was also told he couldn’t take his toenail clippers on board.
“You gotta be a pretty good terrorist to hijack a plane with a nail clipper,” he noted. Raising his voice to a high pitched tone, he says, “Take me to Philadelphia or I’m gonna trim your toenails very short!” Taking it further, he wondered what it would be like if someone tried to smuggle a bomb on a plane “up his raisin hole.
What does that mean for the rest of us?” Pretty soon, he said, TSA officials, KY jelly in hand, will expect travelers to show up in flip-flops and a thong. “Has your ass been in your control” since you left home? he asked to shrieks of laughter.
Shubert, who talks like an Irish-American blue collar Joe, also poked fun at haredim, singing a parody he wrote to help him remember the word haredi (say it like a Chinese Jerry Lewis) – “The Haredi Bunch.” Here’s a story about a guy named Shmeril, who was having 17 children of his own, and so on.
As he attempts to get healthier, Shubert has given up smoking and is trying to eat right.
“Obesity’s gotten so bad, two out of three people have become four out of five people,” he said.
Shubert’s bit about technology and getting dumped went over well, as he explained how he was broken up with via text message once, or as he puts it, “thumb-dumped.” Pretty soon, people will be breaking up over Twitter, he said. “No longer @Jimmyshubert.”
During the question and answer session after the performances, the audience expressed its gratitude for the talented comedians coming to Israel to entertain them.
“You guys wanna come for dinner?” asked one woman. All happily agreed.
The Comedy for Koby Tour continues Tuesday December 4 in Tel Aviv at 8:30 p.m. and on Wednesday December 5 in Gush Etzion 8:30 p.m. For tickets, go to Pre-ordered tickets are NIS 110. At the door NIS 120.