Colorful comedy

With jokes about Jews, gays, politicians and even STDs, nothing is off the table with Tziporela, which is now performing its music-dance-comedy show in English in Tel Aviv.

Tziporela 521 (photo credit: Abra Cohen)
Tziporela 521
(photo credit: Abra Cohen)
Tziporela theater troupe, which has a loyal following thanks to quick-witted performances loaded with laughter, music and relatable skits, has now launched an English-language version of its show in Tel Aviv.
After performing in Australia a few years ago, the group, which consists of nine actors between the ages of 30 and 35, decided to bring an international English version of the show to Israel and make it more accessible to a larger audience.
“We are more familiar with the Israeli show-goers, but humor is a global concept,” explains actress Lotus Etrog, describing the difference between the Hebrew- and English-speaking audiences. “We like to make the world laugh. For our new show, we considered what would be relevant in Tel Aviv would also be important in places like London, New York and Paris.”
With 16 short skits, the troupe combines songs, jokes and skits drawn from everyday experiences the group has. Its third English performance in mid-March at Tel Aviv’s Arison Auditorium drew an almost sold-out crowd with a predominantly Anglo audience.
What started out as a series of acting projects when the group met 11 years ago at the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio in Tel Aviv has grown into a performance that makes fun of nearly everyone and everything. With jokes about Jews, gays, politicians and even STDs, nothing is off the table with this bunch. The group writes all the material it uses in the performances, both in English and in Hebrew, creating it from workshops, in improv sessions or from prepared ideas the members have.
Tziporela draws material from visual theater and YouTube clips, but mostly “those little situations that you bump into on the street – those small moments that you usually miss. We have a tendency to stop there, watch them and bring them out,” says member Tomer Nahir Petluk.
He adds that because each group member is so different, their sources of inspiration are surprising and endless.
Petluk explains that the material also has a deep influence on and personal significance in their daily lives.
“The moment you stop to really examine something, you start to understand it,” he says. “Whether it’s relationships between people, a customer at a shop, or revealing yourself to someone.”
The group members, who have impressive stage presence and chemistry, say those are partially attributable to the diversity of their personalities and backgrounds.
“Because we are so different, it can be like a nonstop creative atmosphere. And once we’re on stage, there’s an explosion of energy!” says Etrog.
In its shows, which include colorful costumes, fastpaced movements and dance, musical combinations are lined up with related scenes, while others serve as standalone acts. Drawing its musical pieces from sources as wide-ranging as the Beatles, Rihanna, classical and Madonna, the group manages to turn a skit into one fluid masterpiece.
Hana Zavodska, a 28-year-old recent immigrant from Slovakia, attended the performance in March. An avid theater fan back in Slovakia, she says she was extremely impressed by Tziporela’s performance, which she affirms moved flawlessly from one act to the next.
“Everything worked perfectly. Great interaction between the members of Tziporela, and I laughed a majority of the time,” she says, recalling the opening scene, in which the actors humorously act out Hebrewto- English translations for the show.
“It was one of the funniest scenes. It set the tone, and it’s very relatable to life in Israel,” she says.
While each version of the show – Hebrew and English – caters to a different type of audience, Tziporela says that because many of the skits have physical elements, music and movement, the humor cuts across language barriers and cultural lines.
Still, though elementary Hebrew-speakers may get great practice in the Hebrew performance, a lot of humor is caught up in language, and audiences may lose some of the quick wit for which this group is so well known.
As the group embarks on its new English-language run, theater aficionados can decide for themselves which version they like better, and whether humor really is dependent on language.
The next performance of Tziporela’s English-language show at Tel Aviv’s Arison Auditorium is on May 9, at 9 p.m. Tickets are NIS 130, or NIS 75 for students. For more information, visit