Texan-Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt and Israeli funnymen Yossi Tarablus and Shahar Hasson join American standup comics Danny Cohen and Ari Teman this week in Rocket Shelter Comedy, a traveling show to benefit Israeli lone soldiers and cheer up Israelis at the same time.
Shows are taking place through July 31 in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Modi’in in bomb shelters and theaters, and the comedians may also bring some much-needed comic relief to army bases. Fans already have a taste of what’s to come.
“Can we PLEASE bring Hamas to NYC. Digging the Second Avenue subway tunnel is taking FOREVER,” Teman tweeted on July 21. Three days later, he added this gem for his Twitter followers: “Israeli cabs have hands-free devices so the Jewish driver can talk to you with both hands.”
Teman, who’s appeared on The Today Show, Comedy Central, Howard 101, ABC, CBS and NBC, tells ISRAEL21c that the unusual comedy tour resulted from a conversation with his attorney at the Israeli law firm GKH, which is handling the legal aspects of Teman’s Israeli startup (still in stealth mode, he says).
“GKH sent me a message saying one of their associates got called to the army so they needed a few extra days to get me the paperwork. How am I sitting in New York when even my attorneys are in uniform?”
Not that he was jonesing to join the army (“You don’t want me fighting for you,” Teman quips), but he contacted Cohen, who was heading to Israel later this summer anyway.
“I said, ‘Let’s go now and tour around and tell people jokes and then they’ll know what real misery is.’ So we moved everything up and arranged to go now.”
His friend Rami Cohen, CEO of Telesofia Medical in Tel Aviv, helped the comedians arrange venues despite the tight security situation. Expenses were paid out of pocket and from several donations.
Lovitt, who moved to Israel in 2006, was a natural addition to the bill. “He and I have known each other for years. He’s very funny, speaks English, he’s a great guy, and he’s been committing genocide in the likes-for-war-jokes department on Facebook,” says Teman.
Here’s one of Lovitt’s latest comic salvos: “Even as they continue to launch rockets, Hamas continues to blame Israel for the lack of a ceasefire. That’s like throwing a drink in a woman’s face, handing her the check, and then blaming her for the lack of sex.”
All kidding aside, Teman says he has noticed since landing in Israel on July 25 that people are smiling and going about their routine as best they can.
“It’s a Jewish idea that you bring light out of darkness, and Israelis are really good about that. People are out walking, kids are running around in the streets. People in the US are more worried about Israel than the people in Tel Aviv are. That’s Israel. Not despite of, but because of, all the challenges, Israelis persevere and continue building something great not just for themselves but for the whole world.”