Anyone who has visited an Israeli beach is likely familiar with the popular beach paddle game known as matkot.
For millions of TV viewers and a live audience of 1,400 at NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” a trio of Israeli performers who go by Bomba, or bomb in Hebrew, offered an intimate introduction to the sport on Tuesday’s episode.
The circus trio emerged with only six wooden matkot paddles, one ball and … no clothing. Keeping the necessary parts covered, the three performers juggled, hit the ball to one another and cautiously walked back and forth across the stage. They performed to Quincy Jones’ famous jingle “Soul Bossa Nova.”
The act, which lasted just under two minutes, elicited countless gasps and considerable applause from the panel of judges and the live audience. A few grimaces were sprinkled in as well, especially when the paddles slipped.
After the performance, which earned a standing ovation, the trio came back out on stage wearing pink bathrobes.
“Is this a famous Israel show? Do people love this?” judge Sophia Vergara asked them.
“Not yet,” one of them replied.
An intimate act
Heidi Klum, another judge, joked that the trio should try using smaller paddles. “We’ve got a lot more to show!” the same performer quipped.
Uncomfortable giggles aside, the judges all voted in favor of the act, including Jewish comedian Howie Mandel, who bid the troupe farewell by shouting “Shalom!” as they exited the stage.
The troupe’s members are brothers Noam and Yaron Davidovich and their frequent collaborator Amit Gerbi, all regulars in Israel’s tight-knit circus scene. They have shared videos before of themselves juggling on a kibbutz, teaching circus arts and performing in colorful jester clothing in the Czech Republic, but the matkot cabaret act is newer. The group taped its “America’s Got Talent” performance in April.
In an interview on Israel’s Channel 12 on Wednesday, one of the performers said he blacked out on stage for the first time in his life. “Thankfully, we did lots of rehearsals, so my body remembered all of the moves. But I was really in a panic,” he said.
According to the Times of Israel, “Bomba” was one of 200 performances, whittled down from 75,000 submissions for the audition round.
Since the now viral act — which has been viewed around 250 thousand times on YouTube — the group has been invited to compete on “Got Talent” shows in Romania and France, they said.