I spent my freshman year of university in Jerusalem with a guy named Avi Liberman (pictured above). I always remembered him as a genuinely nice, funny guy and was happy when we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. The program we went on either convinced you to move to Israel or turned you in a real Zionist, doing what you can for Israel from wherever you are.
Avi came up with the idea seven years ago while visiting Israel during the height of the Intifada. Since then, he has seen the shows develop into something that Israelis rush out to buy tickets for as soon as they go on sale. He brings different comedians from North America’s comedy scene every year, twice a year. His goal is to make people laugh and forget the news going on around them. This was certainly what Israelis needed during my visit, after the flotilla incident caused such a negative international reaction.
This time Avi invited renowned and established comedians Wayne Cotter, Johnny Sanchez and Bob Zany to join him on stage to crack jokes about Americans living in Israel, their visit to the country (the first-time for all of them), their lives back in the U.S. and other news-worthy topics. They were all hilarious and much of the audience was in tears during the performance. The audience mainly consisted of Americans and other Anglos who have migrated to Israel. Quite often, the comedians turned to the audience for participation and there was an open Q&A; at the end of the show.
Avi opened up the show saying they had added another performance on a cruise ship to Turkey (which got a lot of laughs) and included a list of the top ten things you won’t hear in Mea Shearim (“I forgot my gym clothes!”); Zany, a regular on Leno, said his next stop would be the Tel Aviv Kentucky Fried Chicken; Sanchez, the first Latino to ever join the tour, talked about his impressions of the country and included an accurate statement about how the country’s beauty is never included in media images of what’s happening; and Cotter talked his own experience of visiting Israel for the first time and having a child late in life, amongst many other topics which cracked the audience up.
They were all so funny, just what the doctor ordered for this group of English speakers living in Israel. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh, and Avi’s team delivered the laughs.
Seeing the show made me so proud to know Avi. It also gave me an opportunity to get away from the kids for a night! As much as I love them, being away for 3 weeks with not one night out did make me crave some time alone, and I got it that night. I got my dose of culture, while contributing to a cause I care so much about.