'Kupa Rashit' or "Checkout': Israel's award-winning show hits N.America

The stars dish on the phenom that his North American audiences on ChaiFlicks.

 DOV NAVON as Amnon Titinsky, who lives to kvtech and count his agorot at the supermarket. (photo credit: Courtesy ChaiFlicks)
DOV NAVON as Amnon Titinsky, who lives to kvtech and count his agorot at the supermarket.
(photo credit: Courtesy ChaiFlicks)

As the saying goes, the customer is always right. Unless, of course, that customer is Amnon Titinsky, one of the most hilarious characters ever created and played by the exceptional Dov Navon.

While all of the cast members of Kupa Rashit (Checkout) – now available on ChaiFlicks.com in North America – are amazing, Navon and Keren Mor stand out for their great chemistry, as they put on a master class in comedy.

If you go into a supermarket with a food item you previously bought, do you have to let a worker now? This is a Larry-David-esque question dissected in an episode where Amnon is forced to pay for something he claims he already bought but brought into the store without disclosing it. Angered at having to pay for it, he later tries to shoplift the item under his leather jacket, but the checkout woman, Kochava Shavit (Mor) busts him. 

There’s another episode where he waits 90 minutes to try to get a discount on mini-pastries only to fail. Once he leaves the store and the doors are locked, he hears an announcement that there’s an 80% discount. He screams that the store workers are worse than Hamas and ISIS.

“I absolutely love Larry David,” Navon tells the Magazine. “I’ve seen all the seasons of Curb [Your Enthusiasm]. In some ways, Titinsky is influenced by Larry David, such as in the way he’s complaining and kvetching, and sticks to every little detail.”

 KEREN MOR as Kochava schemes with butcher Nissim, played by Yaniv Swissa. (credit: Courtesy ChaiFlicks) KEREN MOR as Kochava schemes with butcher Nissim, played by Yaniv Swissa. (credit: Courtesy ChaiFlicks)

Titinsky even donates a kidney to a loosely connected family member so he could get discounts at the store, only to see his relative, Hezi, quit after the surgery. Navon said he and Mor are friends and Tel Aviv neighbors who go to the same supermarket on Ben-Yehudah Street.

“Now, because people know me, when I come to the supermarket it’s like a red alert,” Navon said. “They’re afraid I’m coming to look for stories for the show.”

He added that even first graders will run and scream “Amnon! Amnon!” when they see him.

Mor said one of the great surprises is that there is a wide base of fans, with teens and young children loving the show.

Her character doesn’t hesitate to lie. She gets someone hooked on smoking who has quit and she doesn’t at first feel bad when she gets her boss, Shira, fired. But she has a lot of flair and becomes a sensation on YouTube. 

Kochava has wild lines of dialogue, including: “I do what my heart tells me and if my heart tells me to give a friend a heart attack, so be it.” (The friend doesn’t have a heart attack.) In another scene, she has dyed her hair red, but jokes that a bird ate beets and urinated on her hair. She is often lazy and puts a sign up that her lane is closed.

 “I like playing Kochava because it allows me to bring out another part of me and express myself,” Mor said. “She has so much self-confidence, self-love and she’s so fierce and direct, so I enjoy that part of the character... There’s a lot of freedom and we feel like we can say what we want. It’s like going back to kindergarten and you don’t have any filters. It’s very fun for an actor to play characters that are not considered good and are sneaky or mischievous. It’s a great release.”

Navon, who is calm and kind in real life (as is Mor) says the character of Amnon removes the shackles of etiquette and propriety.

“As a character, Amnon gives me so much freedom that there are no borders,” he said. “I don’t have to think about it. I have a lot of fun. It’s like playing in a sandbox. I have the freedom to let loose.”

Mor said it was such a hoot to work with Navon and the cast, she didn’t care where it aired or streamed.

The smash hit

THE SMASH hit won Best Comedy at the Israeli TV Academy Awards and was even nominated for an international Emmy. It’s no surprise that it was one of the most watched shows. I averaged six laughs an episode and the North American audience will likely be able to relate to mundane questions. Navon’s top item he buys in real life: toilet paper for NIS 41.

The two stars performed together 30 years ago on the sketch show Hahamishya Hakemarit (The Cameric Five), which became part of Israeli culture. Both said they’re thrilled to be working on a hit show together decades later.

Mor played Tuti in The Psychologist, Ella in Yom Ha’em and numerous other projects over the years. Besides having been a cast member of Eretz Nehderet, the Israeli version of Saturday Night Live, Navon’s roles include Alfred Zachs in The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, Itche in Autonomies; and he is the honest and helpful Rabbi Block in Shababnikim.

Who would win in a fight between Amnon and Rabbi Bloch? Navon isn’t sure.

“Rabbi Bloch has a lot of love; he is a mentor for life,” Navon said. “Amnon is the polar opposite. He can’t contain himself. For an actor, it’s playing two different sides. On the one hand, you can be a patient fatherly figure, and on the other hand, you can be a guy who is panicked and stressed about everything. The only place they could meet is next to the checkout counter at the supermarket.”

Navon and Mor credited the cast as well as the creators and writers Nadav Frishman and Yaniv Zohar. The perfect cast includes Noa Koler as manager Shira Shteinbock, who must keep the place going smoothly amid all the insane hijinks, and Amir Shurush, the award-winning actor, who plays Ramzi Abed Ramzi, an insanely funny man who needs help asking out a woman and is militantly devoted to the supermarket.

There’s also Daniel Styopin, who is jaw-droppingly good as Russian Anatoly Kirilenko, and Mor said she was getting ready to go to the bar mitzvah of a son of Yaniv Swissa, who plays Orthodox butcher Nissim Shimoni. In one hysterical scene, he believes he sees the face of a legendary rabbi in a cut of raw meat.

Aviva Nagosa brings a low-key role to the show and becomes the object of two worker’s affection, resulting in an involuntary love triangle. Yigal Adika is hysterical as Avichai Gratzian who wants every good idea to be seen as his own. In the episode where he brings in numerous new managers, you might fall off your chair. Ya’akov Bodo is hilarious as Chibotero, an older security guard who comes to break up the action the second the action has ended.

Mor says the script is like the Bible, but they occasionally improvise.

Navon explained the pandemic was extremely difficult for him in the first six months where he wondered what would happen. He eventually regrouped, started a podcast and wrote a play, things he might not have otherwise done.

Mor said she’d been active but took a break.

“I was in two plays when COVID hit,” Mor says. “Even though my kids are out of the house, baruch Hashem, it felt like maternity leave. I got a break. I got to read a lot of books and go to the beach.”

Could their characters secretly love each other? Should we expect a dramatic wedding in the new season?

Mor notes that her character was interested only when she thought he was a millionaire. She said her character is addicted to arguing with Amnon. Mor also said, unless she is in a hurry to get somewhere, she doesn’t mind if fans offer kind words on the street, and Navon proclaimed, “I live for this.”

He said part of the reason he thinks the show has become a hit is because the writing is direct and not politically correct. Also, while some people say not to “sweat the small stuff,” he disagrees.

“If you leave it to go, it will become big,” Navon says.

If laughter is the best medicine, you need to watch this show. It’s the third funniest I’ve ever seen after Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. You’ll laugh so hard that your teeth will hurt. I’m waiting for Amnon to go on a date with a supermodel and for Kochava to get proposed to by the owner of the supermarket chain.

Navon and Mor are so great, you might laugh when their characters look at each other.

Both said they don’t take any success for granted.

“Whenever you enjoy doing something and it becomes a success, and you see the audience loves it as much as you do, it’s a constant surprise and it’s sort of a blessing,” Navon said. ■